Wednesday, May 11, 2005

When TV attacks

So, as you may have read here before, I'm writing a spec episode of Lost. Tonight's episode threw some monkeywrenches into my spec idea. I won't bore you with details, but here's what I have to decide. Do I:

  • continue writing the spec as is and ignore new minor elements revealed in the show that are incredibly similar to things I've already outlined.
  • alter my episode to incorporate or expound on these things.
  • radically change my story to avoid any sense that I am 'ripping off' what has already been written.
My sense is that anyone reading my spec will have knowledge of the show but will (hopefully) not be a rabid fan who can spot the minor inconsistencies or similarities my spec has to these last few episodes. I started writing around episode 18 for cryin' out loud! How am I supposed to know what turn might happen around episode 22??

And I really don't want to start over...option 1 or 2 are looking good. What to do?

8 comments:

Dave said...

I'm afraid to say it -- but I think TV folks are going to want to know that you can crank out fresh scripts in very short amounts of time. If your script looks slightly dated in any way, it will say "I can't keep up with the pace of TV writing."

Shawna said...

Not the answer I was hoping for! But, I think you are correct. I'm already thinking of how to switch some things around to alleviate similarities and outdated 'stuff'.

Argh. I was halfway done with this thing too...

Gary P said...

Shawna, what is your deadline on this? Lost only has one or two episodes left and after that, no more twists for you to incorporate. Other than that I agree with Dave. Add in the fact that you really don't want anyone to read a less than perfect spec with the hope that the reader doesn't know enough to spot the flaws. Whichever way you decide to go (option 2, option 2) Good Luck !!

Andrew Ironwood said...

I'm agreeing with everything written above: option 2 sounds most prudent...

The Moviequill said...

I think you are on a tear, perhaps have the waters flowing to babbling brook levels, so finish the thought you are working on...'Lost' bases itself so much on flashback/backstory that if they see something used already, they could incorporate it into one of the future flashbacks. Your knowledge of the character and quality of wirting is going to be what is on the table, so go with your heart

The Moviequill said...

'and quality of wirting'..wirting? yeah my own quality of writing needs a boost ha

Rogers said...

The middle of season spec is fine. I read plenty of X-Files that had Mulder and Scully in them sans baby. Quality of the script's the important thing.

I wouldn't have picked LOST, just personally, but my advice still holds.

Anonymous said...

Shawna - you do not need to alter your spec. As was said above, agents, showrunners, etc., want to see you can write, first and foremost. Can you capture the tone of the show, because as a staff writer, that is going to be your task - to write in someone else's footsteps. The other thing to remember, is that when writing a spec, it is HIGHLY, HIGHLY unlikely that any showrunner or agent is going to have a familiarity with the show that you possess as a spec writer - they are just too busy to keep up with all of the small changes a show goes through. It's your writing that matters.

A larger point though, is why you picked Lost as a spec? Did someone tell you this? Did you pick it because it is your favorite show that you know so well? If at all possible, you really want to get the scoop from an agent or someone in the biz on what the hot specs are. While it's great you're not writing a CSI, you also have to look at the nature of the show...what kind of show is Lost? It's not a prodecural, not a lawyer show, not a cop show...why would anyone reading it think you could write one of those shows, especially since they are SO prevalent now? It's something to consider when choosing your spec. You really do want to make yourself as marketable as possible. (And in avoiding such a heavily serialized show, you avoid the headaches that come with it, in trying to write a stand-alone ep of a show that doesn't have it.)

I fell into this trap a couple of years ago by writing the world's greatest ALIAS spec, but I couldn't get anyone to read it because a) it wasn't all that popular, and b) no one knew the show well enough and c) being so serialzed, it was tough to convince anyone I had a great stand-alone ep. And of course, if you are familiar with the show, when they took down SD-6, it blew my whole spec to crap. CSI is always going to be CSI, the doctors on ER are always going to be solving medical problems, etc. If someone leaves the show, it's much easier to replace them.

BUT, the writing matters above all. Just for your next spec, choose a little wiser. Sorry this post went on so long, but I didn't want you to make the same mistakes I did...good luck.