Fellowship season is upon us!
Having a spec and an original pilot are a must-
SPEC SCRIPTS FOR TV
This time of year when all the aspiring TV writers start on new spec scripts and or bring out last year’s-big mistake in my book-write a new one, you’re a writer, write a new one. And the added bonus of doing this-the more you write-the better you get.
The biggest mistakes that I see, and have done myself in the past are so simple and easy to fix. I don’t know why more people don’t see it.
You want to work in drama-what is your favorite drama? Write a spec of that one. Period. You love the show, you know the characters, that is what you should be writing. Don’t write what you think you should be writing, unless asked to as a possible job off. Example, I was asked a couple years back to write an episode of 24. The studio/show I had submitted my Saving Grace and Grey’s Anatomy too liked me and my writing, but the job was for an event drama so they asked me to write a 24 to see if I could fit their style. I didn’t get the job. I love 24, but it just isn’t my style-so probably had I got that job it wouldn’t have been a good fit.
I have since switched back to my original love comedy. But this isn’t about me, it’s about you.
Write a show that YOU love.
COMEDY WRITERS-Why do you love that show? Is it all jokes like Chuck Lorre’s show? Or is it situational? Is it single cam? Is it multi-cam? Is it ironic like Californiacation-which is almost a drama, or is it slapstick and sketchy?
DRAMATIC WRITERS-Do you like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters type shows? Or are you a procedural type of person. What shows are you excited to watch every week?
I read a lot of scripts, sometimes for friends and sometimes for money (see my website I have a consulting business) and the biggest number one thing I see people doing wrong-is NOT staying in character. If you have Monica from Friends being a free spirit and not caring about the table being messy-you do not know Monica and it tells the reader that you either don’t care or don’t know the show you are writing. Make sure you know those characters and how they will act. I recently read three comedy specs and they were all funny, and I could maybe see them on the air, but they would be the episodes that the audience wouldn’t love or just be confused at. The reason is the characters were all wrong. It’s the biggest mistake.
Sure I have made a lot of mistakes in my specs-as we all do. I wrote a Big Bang Theory and totally missed the mark because I wrote a situation comedy instead of a joke show and I placed it in a movie theater. Had I put it in the comic book store and told more jokes it would have worked. That was me not knowing the show, or not following it properly. I thought as long as I got the characters right and surrounded it about a comic book character-IRON MAN in this one-than it would work. I missed the mark.
I have learned the hard way about trying to write what you think people want to read and what I should have been writing.
So I offer this blog today before you start your spec for the fellowships-write what you love.
Same thing, write the type of show you love. If you love cop shows, write a cop show. It’s pretty simple and want to tell that story and be excited about it. I see a lot of original scripts that are high concept and badly executed because the person has a great idea, but not the passion for that type of show and it stands out in the writing.
Draw from your own life. Draw from your friends. Draw from what makes you tick and don’t worry about what you think you will sell-because if you do that, you will fail.
Now get off the internet and start working on that script!