Knowledge is Power
I finished my last script, it was hard, intense, and I'm glad to be done with it. I'm fairly pleased with the outcome, but it took a lot out of me. So, I decided I wanted to write something fun and quirky. I made a list of all the fun and quirky shows I could think of... it was a short list. I shortened it further and chose my next spec. I had no idea what I would do for that spec. So, I started brainstorming. I came up with a brilliant idea. It was AWESOME. So, I started a beat sheet, which morphed into an outline and by the end of that day, I had a really fucking strong outline. It, quite literally, wrote itself.
Thing is, I really just needed to get writing, so I skipped one of my steps: rewatching all the episodes of the show before commencing writing.
But, I was over the moon. I figured I'd have a draft of the script within a few days, as it was writing itself.
Later that night, I was watching TV, not fully able to get my mind off my outline. Mentally reworking some stuff and I realized it was missing a major component. So, I re-opened the document. Started implementing my changes. Seriously, guys, I was a fucking genius.
Then I had this weird niggling feeling. Like one of the new components felt kind of familiar. Like, really familiar. Too familiar to ignore. So, I thought hard. And, realized they'd had that component on that show. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't just that component that was familiar.
MY ENTIRE FUCKING IDEA HAD ALREADY BEEN DONE. BY THAT SHOW.
And, I missed it because I didn't do that one crucial step: rewatching all the episodes.
I was really bummed out because, as stated, the episode wrote itself. I'm assuming it did so because it had already been written. So, now, I'm writing something else, a completely different show. All while pretending I'm not completely embarrassed about the above situation. Hey, at least I figured it out in outline and not in final draft...
What prompts this post, however, is I was having lunch with a fellow writer yesterday and as she told me about her spec, it sounded familiar. Granted, it was one small component of her spec (a C story), and she lamented that they did her idea a few weeks ago. Thing is, they didn't just do it a few weeks ago, they did it (also) in the first season. So, they're repeating themselves...
What I was shocked to learn, however, is that she hadn't seen the episode in the first season. In fact, she hadn't seen much of the first season. And, this is a show that's only about three seasons old.
Don't get me wrong, she's clearly a talented writer because she's gotten much acclaim from her spec. BUT, I cannot fathom not having seen all the episodes before writing. In fact, even when I do see them? I totally forget them and apparently steal ideas from them...
So, I guess I'm pretty amazed that anyone would write a spec without knowing the show backwards and forwards. But, for her, it worked. For me, not so much.
And, I'm curious... how do you guys approach it?