Last week writer Valentina Párraga visited my telenovelas seminar. She is an intelligent and charming guest who shared with us her experience writing telenovelas in Venezuela (Viva la Pepa and Trapos Intimos, just to name the two most recent ones) and now in Telemundo (Anita no te rajes and Doña Bárbara). These two groups of telenovelas represent a contrast in style that is determined by the undeniable differences between the Venezuelan and the U.S. audience.
It's always interesting for me to confirm once again that there is an immense distance between the public's perception (as expressed in message boards and gathered in my research) and the tough reality of writing a telenovela. This distance is encouraged by the entertainment press' trivialization of the telenovela writing job and its emphasis on gossip and rumors.
From a teaching perspective, I believe that it's important for my students to understand the difficulties and stress involved in the everyday life of telenovela writing, a job that takes over the lives of its makers. They spend many hours at their computer keyboards at a time in their lives that is dominated by their telenovela characters and plots, while they try to win the ratings war.
Following is a brief video where you can hear Valentina Párraga describing her daily routine as she writes Doña Bárbara:
We thank Valentina for her time, warmth and honesty.