Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just pick your show and start writing.

More on what to spec: I don't know. People have been asking me a lot about specific shows, and I hate to go on the record with some official answer when it's a question that gets such varied answers. So this is as official as I'll get:

Spec a show that's in its 2nd season or later - but be wary of anything that's been on for 5 or more seasons.

Don't spec a show that looks like it might be cancelled soon. This can be hard to tell, but if you check in with the trades (Variety and the Hollwood Reporter) every now and then, you should have a sense of it.

Spec something that demonstrates your best qualities as a writer - whether it's witty banter or plot twists or broad comedy. It should be the kind of show you want to get staffed on.

Most importantly, spec a show you love and that you're passionate about. If you pick a show because you think it's popular or commercial or the Right Thing To Spec but you don't enjoy writing it, then that will show through in your writing.

Otherwise, it's up to you. Pushing Daisies? I say sure, go ahead. But I'm not the all-powerful beacon of TV spec knowledge. I guess I know more now that I used to, though, or I wouldn't have written a spec of The OC between seasons 3 and 4. :)

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5 comments:

a. said...

Damn Carnivale spec. I hate it almost as much as the Deadwood one. Can't chat all day: gotta go finish writing for Moonlight.

a. said...

I mean Tudors.

Dan Williams said...

Yes, I think you're right about picking a show to spec that the writer is passionate about. But I might go a bit further. It would also show through in the writing if the writer was DELIGHTED with the characters, or AMAZED at the ideas they come up with.

If the writer is AMAZED at how the character stands up for somebody, say, and DELIGHTED at how the scene turns out for the character, these two qualities, I would argue, will add such a richness to the feel of a script that it becomes memorable for the reader. In everyday life, we tell stories to each other about the amazing and delightful moments.

Similarly, if a writer goes to CNN each day and notices what the real delightful news stories are, this is a clue about what subject the spec might be about. The characters in the spec feel as amazed and delighted as the writer did by the news story. Or angry-amazed, or upset-amazed. And then the characters come up with their own amazing/delightful take on the current event.

jose said...

what about a spec the hills?

a. said...

The Hills would be a great show to spec: the characters don't need distinct personalities, write in all the product placement you'd like, pick a restaurant in LA for setting, and, above all else, make the dialogue monosyllabic. Done!