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December 30 2008

Dr Horrible one of the "Top 18 Geek News Stories." GeekDad lists Dr Horrible as part of his "Top 18 Geek News Stories of 2008."

"A 43-minute geek musical, created by the Joss and his two brothers. NPH as a mad scientist, Nathan Fillion... oh, you know. Written during the recent Hollywood writers' strike, Dr. Horrible became an internet sensation overnight."

It's in good company, listed along with Twitter, D&D 4th edition, and the LHC.

First post - hope I did this right! :)

Poor Maurissa. She always gets neglected.
Agreed. Unfortunately she is just not that sound-biteable (although she certainly is very... um... er... oh dear, look at my wrist).
This is one of those things that just pisses me off - Maurissa gets left off more often than not. Leaving her out is obviously the easiest route, but it's inaccurate - and truly, how hard is it to get right?

Does Maurissa have to have a sex change and get adopted by Tom Whedon in order to become an Official Whedon Brother - she could be Zed Whedon - and finally get the credit to which she's entitled?

'Cause I'm not thinking that would really work out that well for anyone...
In part leaving Maurissa out is a sound bite problem, mechanical vs. the content. Things work in ones, twos or threes. Things meme-along that are easy to say and type.

So, this fits:
". . . created by the Joss and his two brothers. Stars Neil Patrick Harris as a mad scientist, Nathan Fillion . . . "

One, two, three things. Each is one idea: creators (interesting story there), Neil Patrick Harris / mad scientist (celeb hook and the lead), Nathan Fillion (another celeb hook, bringing along the Fillionaires.)

Maurissa fits into the sound-bitey rhythm, or not depending:
". . . Joss Whedon, his brothers Zack and Jed . . . "

One, two three, with one human interest hook - oh, they're family. No Maurissa. The problem is getting her in the list without needing too many big words or connections. Joss -> brothers -> fiance is two steps & "brother's fiance" is a lot of syllables. You also have to make the first sentence factually correct and easy to navigate.
". . . made by Joss's extended family (Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen) . . ."

There she is, still with one hook - "extended family." If you say "Joss Whedon", you can say "Zack" and "Jed", but you need Maurissa's last name, because it isn't "Whedon" yet. Staying correct mucks up the symmetry, making it harder to navigate. Say "Joss", then you can use the brothers's last name (which also lets you say "Whedon"), and Maurissa's. This preserves symmetry while dodging describing the relationship. The name change even helps - short, short, short, long and interesting. "Maurissa Tancharoen" is fun to say. Works like a punctuation, telling you the lead is done - Oh, it's a story about a family project.

Here's another:
" . . . made during the writers' strike by Joss Whedon & his extended family, acting family and industry friends."

Longer version:
"Made during the writers' strike by the Whedon clan, starring Neil Patrick Harris and several long-time Whedon collaborators, and produced on 'favors and waivers' from Joss Whedon's industry friends, Dr. Horrible is a sensation. It's made for the internet first. It's made around passion for the work. And it's good."

The lead has to be easy because readers haven't decided to work hard yet, and a promise to convince them to read the rest. Symmetry, rhythm, punctuating the end and so on make it easy. For Dr. Horrible, any of these promises would work - origin of the show, internet / musical, new production & distribution model, the actors involved, what it's about. Most general audience stories about Dr. Horrible start with the Joss angle because he is well known. From there it's hard to get Maurissa into the lead.

I am going on about this because we who are trying to connect people with Good Work(tm), (Ahem - Dollhouse.) will get more traction by paying attention to how we write and speak to folks who don't know yet - comments on industry sites, reviews, intros at events, fan interviews and so on. Make it easy for them to Get It(tm) and more will come along. Make it easy for them to pass it on and the message will travel farther. It takes some work. The lead for this comment took me seven (7) rewrites. Obviously, the body could use several more.

And yes, I feel unbelievable awkward talking about any kind of writing somewhere that Joss Whedon actually reads.
Really good comment btw. Food for thought. Cheers.

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