Posts Tagged: writing process

In The Beginning, Part 1: Being Chosen

By Jim McDoniel

(In which Season One Writer Jim McDoniel discusses the origins of Our Fair City and how he became involved in the project)

In the beginning, there was “The Word.” Billions, nay, thousands of years later, Our Fair City was created. Coincidence or intelligent design?

This whole thing started with Clayton. Clayton and his roommate, whose name I’d say escapes me, except that I never could remember it in the first place, came up with the premise for Our Fair City in college. That’s all I know. I wasn’t there. Though from all the winking and nudging and nose-tapping that goes on when he tells that story, I think it safe to assume there was also a discussion of which chip flavor the universe most smells like.

Anyway, like I said, my perspective comes in later when we were all employed at a museum that I will not name for an exhibit that I will not name. Let’s just say we were quite “industrious” though not very “scientific” while we all worked on the “English Boy Wizard” Exhibition.

I was in the break room, reading a book as usual when in walks Clayton with an entourage that included Frank, another guy whose name I think is Mark, and possibly Ansel. They were talking about a project they were working on. I had been eavesdropping for days now and the only two things I had determined was that it was properly nerdy and involved writing. And that I wanted to join. So, three things, then.
Being me, I had devised an ingenious plan for getting involved: sitting quietly and waiting to be asked. It is a strategy that, in the past has served me well in not being a part of various sketch shows and improv troupes. And now, I employed it fully expecting the same result.

Anyway, Clayton and the gang were talking proper nerdy when a question came up. I forget what it was. I forget most things, or don’t pay attention to them in the first place. Conversations, directions, safety instructions, it all goes away nearly instantaneously. Unless you tell me that you think we’re better friends than boyfriend and girlfriend. For some reason, those conversations stay with me FOREVER. The point is the gang was puzzling over a sci-fi question, one that I knew the answer to.

For clarity’s sake, let’s say the conversation went like this:
Me: Are you wondering what movie had a crazy doctor played by Bruce Campbell doing weird plastic surgery on people?
Them: Yeah.
Me: Escape From L.A.
Them: Oh yeah.

I was about to go back to reading but Clayton was staring at me in a puzzled way. It was a moment before he said the only part of this story I can clearly recall. He said, “Jim, why haven’t we gotten you in on this?” I shrugged, Clayton waved me over, and just like that, I was in.

A few minutes later I was clued in to the basic premise. A few hours later I had my first good idea. And a few days later, I handed Clayton my first script for Our Fair City: “The Patch Job.”