CHARGING AHEADComplications Ensue
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I'm charging ahead, writing pages on our second episode. Strictly speaking I should be waiting for network notes. But various factors have delayed these, and I don't want to delay the script. The network hasn't decided what to greenlight just yet, and I'd love to have a great second script to help convince them our show should be among the blessed ones going to camera this Summer or Fall. So I'm getting an early start.

The risk, of course, is our network exec wants major changes to one or several of the story lines, or actually throws out a story. Just because our stories were approved at the breakdown stage doesn't mean they can't be disapproved at the treatment stage. Indeed, I've had stories approved at the treatment stage and tossed at the script stage. For that matter, one of my Charlie Jade scripts, we had such problems that I offered to junk the whole script and come up with an entirely new plot. Fortunately for my sanity, my offer was rejected. But we paid the price with a not-up-to-par episode. And about half the A story had to be junked at the editing stage ... with nothing to put in its place.

Incidentally, one of the joys of being the head writer is you get to choose the juicy episodes. The price you pay is that you are obliged to choose the hard episodes because you're the more experienced writer. So it may later appear that you did not write the best episodes ... because it is easier to polish a diamond than the innards of a wind-up watch.

So, I'm risking "carnage" as my ex-writing-partner used to call it. I could wind up doing a lot of work for nothing. But the payoff is that I'm half a script ahead of the game. Even if I have to junk the whole script, I'm learning how to write this show: the rhythms of the story telling, the weaving together of story lines, and the human reality of the characters.

To be honest I don't think we'll be throwing out story lines. And writing ahead will also help me when we get the notes -- I'll have noticed some of the problems I missed in the treatment, and solved them as well. So I'll be better able to respond to them usefully.


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