Guessing Game - Complications Ensue
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Friday, April 06, 2007

Q. How much should shifts in a show affect your spec? For instance, In the season finale of Battlestar Galactica, [snip]. But we haven't seen how that will play out, so there's no frame of reference for us spec-monkeys to go from. ... I guess what I'm asking is should I try to guess what the show will eventually do, or should I just forget about it, and set my episode at an earlier point in continuity?
I wouldn't recommend guessing. You'll too easily guess wrong and waste your spec.

The point of a spec isn't to show you're good at guessing, but that you're good at writing to a show's template and capturing its voices. If you can capture the feel of the show from last January, say, then your reader will assume you could probably do it on staff for next January. While it's best to be as up-to-date as reasonably possible with your spec, no one's expecting you to predict the future. That's what network execs are supposed to do.
Q. So you think it's okay to even spec a serialized show like Battlestar Galactica? Or Lost?
It's okay. It's just not particularly easy. You have to find a way to insert an episode into the show's chronology. If you can think of how to put in a "missing episode," go for it. But most top shows these days have a chronology, so you'll probably have to do that to some extent in almost anything you write.

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5 Comments:

So you think it's okay to even spec a serialized show like Battlestar Galactica? Or Lost?
The only other person I've read that approves of that is Jane Espenson (and she recently changed her mind).

By Blogger Tom, at 10:14 PM  

Lost would be easy. Recently, there have been a few episodes that have been complete filler. For example, last weeks about those two survivors Nikki and Paulo. It had all the charaters, but did not contribute anything to the mythology. The Hurley episode a few weeks ago did the same.

Just use those as examples....

By Blogger blogwriter, at 12:00 PM  

But weren't those atypical episodes of Lost? And therefore not the kind of episode you want your spec to be?

By Blogger Tom, at 3:09 PM  

they are atypical... but I would think you would want an episode that features the characters, on the island, without putting to much of your own spin on the mythology of the series. I think capturing the characters would be most important, and then adding your own clever/Lost-type plot twists second.

But I am not in the industry, it's just my own take on the matter.

By Blogger blogwriter, at 7:42 PM  

I asked you a similar question a long time ago and you said the same thing - to write an episode of Lost that takes place between two existing episodes. I wrote a pretty good one about Shannon and her need for independence and why she is the way she is and based a lot of it on the way her father died. Then they killed her. And when they showed how her father died my script became officially useless.

I did enter the script unsuccessfully into the Disney Fellowship before that happened, but other than that it's mostly been useful as practice. But I'm still glad I wrote it because it was good practice for learning to think about writing for that kind of show.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 8:48 PM  

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