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Complications Ensue:
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Q. When speccing an episode of an existing show, should you make reference to past characters and episodes or keep it self-contained?
Keep it as self contained as possible. The people reading you will hopefully know the characters and the general premise, but you can't count on them to be fans who know the show cold. The more you can come up with a plot that works on its own, while still convincing us it's a "lost episode of the show," the better. Not easy, but that's the needle you have to thread.
Q. Is it unwise to spec a show from across the pond? Say, a Doctor Who or a Torchwood? Is it any better to do a North American show that isn't a blockbuster, like Dexter? I guess the real question I'm asking is: how important is it that the person reading the script has actually seen the show it's based on?
Totally important. The point of a spec is to show you can write someone else's show. If I haven't seen the show you wrote, how do I know if you nailed it or not?

If you're American, spec an American show. If you're a Brit, spec a pilot for an original British show. [See David Bishop's comment below.]

If you're Canadian ... you may as well spec an American show. There's no downside, and you can't use your Slings & Arrows or Corner Gas south of the border.



I'd beg to differ about speccing for UK TV. Time and again, wannabe Brit scribes are told to write an original drama [or comedy, if that's their bag] spec script. UK TV producers always say they want to see evidence of the writer's original voice, not their ability to replicate somebody else's voice.

Paradoxically, if you demonstrate you have an original voice [along with talent, a grasp of structure, great dialogue and all those other craft skills], you might get the chance to write for an existing show where you will be expected to sublimate your own voice to the voice of the show.

[For my first attempt to write TV, I wrote a spec for an existing UK drama and sent it to that show - putz! I know better now...]

By Blogger David Bishop, at 2:27 AM  

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