So there you have it. The strike is officially over. Part of me is relieved, I guess, but part of me feels kind of indifferent. Largely, I was unaffected; sure, I played a few extra games of Scrabulous instead of binding scripts, and I was unable to go for assistant desks since they didn't open up. But I never actually saw a picket line. I kept my job. I even got a raise (to $10 an hour, yeesh). I'm hoping I feel the effects later in my life...like when I'm a real TV writer and my stuff is shown on the internet and I get real money for it. Until then, I'll be doing what I've been trying to do since I moved to LA: working, writing, making contacts, maintaining some level of sanity, believing that I can really do this.
I've been having more trouble writing my Weeds spec than I did with the OC or Friday Night Lights. I'm not sure what it is...maybe that I started writing a draft before I had an entirely complete outline (after NOT writing for weeks because I was having plot problems, I figured writing the scenes I did have in my head would be better than nothing, and it is). Luckily I have a supportive writer's group that has given me some good ideas. But what I really want to do is sit down, write a perfect scene and move on...and that's just not how it works most of the time. Tonight I wrote three different versions of a scene...and I might scrap all of them, still. But it's progress. It's writing. Writing is rewriting. And the more you do it, the better your script will be. Some tricks I've learned to keep things flowing: Try writing the scene in a new location. Try combining the scene with another. Try moving the scene earlier or later. Try imagining yourself as each character, or each actor - what do YOU want to happen? Sometimes the scene can take itself in a new direction. There's also the advice I read somewhere that all scenes need to have an emotional shift. If your characters start happy and end happy, or start mad and end mad, your scene probably doesn't really advance the plot or have a point. New information/conversations/reactions should shift the emotional drive of the scene. Trust me - watch one of your favorite shows and notice how people feel when it begins as opposed to how it ends.
What else? Oh yeah, there's a new show airing on Mondays on CBS called Welcome to the Captain. It's a half-hour single-camera comedy, quite different from the rest of CBS' traditional sit-com and crime procedural lineup. As much as I like Jeffrey Tambor, I have to say I wasn't a big fan of the show...it just wasn't funny enough (and it had one of my pet peeves: the protagonist is a screenwriter). I was thinking about it more, and I think one of the problems is that it relies too heavily on the lines for humor. Of course, jokes are written into the script, but the funniest shows do more. They place funny characters in funny situations and have them say funny things, whether it's as absurd as sending cop-strippers to a yacht and then getting fooled by a fake dismemberment (how I miss you, Arrested Development) or as simple as getting mad about topping off gas at the pump or dealing with an armoir you really want (Seinfeld). Though it had some fun moments, I felt like Welcome to the Captain featured kind of boring people in usual situations saying only occasionally funny things.