Q. In a spec script, which is a more pressing concern? a) That the reader won't be familiar with a certain aspect/plot point of the show necessary to the plot, or b) that the reader will be annoyed by an explanation of said plot point, etc.
Well, you can't just up and explain the plot point to the reader. A spec is supposed to look and feel like a real script for that series. On the other hand you can't rely on execs to be completely up on their show mythology.
How do you split the difference? You can try to have a story that stands by itself, that doesn't rely too heavily on arcane show knowledge. This is easier in an episodic show like HOUSE or CSI than a serial. Or, you can make it self-explanatory.
For example you can depend on readers to know that Commander Adama commands the fleet running away from the evil robots, but if you want us to know who slept with whom once, find a sneaky way to let us know. E.g. "he stops awkwardly, noticing her. He's still embarrassed that they slept together." There, you've told us, without making it look like you're dumping expo on us.
Bear in mind, the execs who are reading your scripts may not be fans of the show you're speccing. You can expect that if you've chosen one of the hot specs for this year, your readers (producers and execs) will be conversant with the show. But they may not have a deep appreciation of the show; so they may not get how clever you are if you've hung your whole episode on one of the finer points of the show's mythos.
They're more concerned about whether you've nailed the characters and their dialog, tone, structure, and the sort
of story that show tells, than whether you are weaving your story into the narrative framework of the show's current season. After all, you're audition for free lancer -- and not
for the show you're speccing. So if you succeed, they will either be asking you to write a mostly stand-alone show anyway, or they will give you strict marching orders for how your show weaves in.
Labels: spec scripts