I be a good righter.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Knowledge is Power

I'm an idiot.

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.


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?


  • At April 26, 2007 2:32 PM, Blogger Scribble94 said…

    I think it's a good idea to watch all the episodes, but not absolutely necessary. Reading episode recaps is helpful when not all the episodes are available on dvd.

  • At April 26, 2007 3:15 PM, Blogger Shawna said…

    I agree with Scrib. Watch as many as you can, read as many as you can (usually a smaller number), and then read the recaps for the rest...especially if the show is more than 2 or 3 seasons old.

    And I know the feeling about outlining ideas that have been done. Usually it happens to me that as I'm writing the spec, the show does what I'm writing. And better. Which really ticks me off.

  • At June 13, 2007 4:37 PM, Blogger Abe Vionas said…

    For me the best approach has been to watch the pilot episode (to see what the show is overall about), the second episode (to see what direction they took the show in immediately following the pilot--this, I hope, reveals what they most value about their show), a middle episode, and the finale. Then, if the show has run over multiple years, I'll watch the finale episodes of each previous year, and the most recent episode. This gives me an idea of where the show is currently at. The idea, for me, is to get a sense of the ebb and flow of the show.

    I'm speccing Two and a Half Men right now and I've followed the above plan as far as finding the structure of the show (etc.). For the rest of the episodes that I haven't watched (and there are a LOT of them--I mean, geez, they're well over the hundredth episode mark) I'll read the blurbs printed on various sites around the web.

  • At September 24, 2007 3:05 PM, Blogger Beckylooo said…

    Just found your blog. Enjoying it. Personally, I wouldn't dream of writing a spec with out watching each and every episode. For one, I'd hate to run into a sitch like you did. But more importantly, the more eps I've watched, the more ingrained the voices in my brain. In fact, if there aren't that many available, I try to watch them all twice. But you know, to each her own.


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