Still of DC Pierson as Duncan in the film Mystery Team

DC Pierson is busy. His Alex Award-winning first novel, The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To, is now being made into a movie. He’s part of an acclaimed improv team called Derrick Comedy which performs regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles, and with whom he made a 2009 movie called Mystery Team that was featured at Sundance. And he’s only 27!

Pierson joined us as a National Juror in the Humor category for the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards; earlier this year, blogger Brendan Bourque-Sheil interviewed Pierson about his writing process. Check out an excerpt of the interview below! We’re positive that he’ll get you to Start.Write.Now!

BB: So how does the writing process differ from writing your comedic scripts for sketches versus writing your novel?

DC: It is pretty different because in a sketch you’re just trying to explore one comedic idea over the course of like two to five minutes, but then again I would say there’s also something that I learned in sketch comedy that’s been very useful in…longer form writing or prose writing which is the idea that “if that, then what else” which is an idea from improv…If we establish something as being true in a scene then we want to ask ourselves, “if that’s true, then what else is true?” And that kind of leads us to…the next comedic beat…And that’s definitely something that I’ve applied within prose writing….if you’re talking about sci-fi, it’s like “if this one thing were different, what would that change about everything else?”…So even though they’re very different, lessons from either one have been applicable to the other one as well.

BB: So that kind of thought process of taking an idea and forming the logical next step, kind of a chain of cause and effect, is that what you applied to Eric from The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To?

DC: Oh yeah for sure. I mean, it did just kind of start with the germ of the idea of “wouldn’t it be interesting if there were someone who didn’t have a biological need for sleep” and then you kind of make other decisions around that like “what is the context of that thing and then how would that thing  affect the rest of the world. And how would that affect your relationship with that person? How would that affect that person’s relationship with the world?”

There’s…a term in improv called “inventing” and it’s kind of a pejorative thing, like inventing things is bad. We don’t really want to be just making stuff up at every moment, because it’s really labored and mannered after a point to just continue to invent new stuff out of nowhere. It’s kind of what the perception of improv is, but really, ideally improv is making a few strong decisions at the top of a scene and letting those inform everything that you do for the rest of the scene, and then letting those scenes kind of inform what you do for the rest of the show. And you can apply that to prose as well. You just kind of want to make a few decisions and then see how things play out rather than just continuing to invent…

BB: So, with your novel I feel like there’s definitely a lot of autobiographical inspiration in some of the characterizations. Would you say that’s true about Darren?

DC: Absolutely. I was closer to being like one of the theater kids that he encounters through his girlfriend than I was necessarily a total and complete, self-inflicted social outcast, but I also–throughout elementary school and middle school, and even to a degree…in high school–was definitely someone who just wanted to be buried in a book and not have anyone notice you being buried in that book because you didn’t want to have to answer questions about it. So yeah, it was kind of drawn from a bunch of different periods in my life but, yeah, I would say, for sure.

For the rest of the interview, visit Comedyconglomerate’s Blog.

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