Q. I'm working on a spec BONES, and I've introduced a new lab assistant. I know, I know, never introduce new characters in a spec script (besides the ones that are necessary for a procedural plot, etc.) But Hart Hanson, Bones' creator and showrunner, has said that he'll be introducing new assistants this year. (Quick catch-up: The series regular who played the research assistant left the show two seasons ago. Since then, a revolving door of approx. 5 research assistants have filled the role. They are interns working under the main character and not permanent hires in the world of the show.)
In my spec, the new lab assistant provides an entertaining B story -- and he leaves at the end of the episode, as many of the previous assistants have. But if I keep this plotline, will it be seen by potential readers as automatically violating the cardinal rule of No New Characters in a Spec and immediately brand me as an amateur? Or will I get any credit for closely following the intentions of the showrunner and keeping current?
That's a tricky question. You can't count on execs and producers and showrunners to have been following BONES closely, though the ones that do may give you bennies for it.
I would put it this way: make sure the new lab assistant is there to provoke interesting drama with the core cast. In other words, it shouldn't be her
B story, it should be a core character's B story, provoked by the new lab assistant.
Many thanks for this prompt and helpful answer! I designed my new character to cause a stir in the lab and give Cam, Angela, and Hodgins something to do/react to while Booth and Brennan go out and investigate. But I'll definitely go back and consider revising with your advice in mind. Perhaps it'd be most effective if the B-story more specifically focused on Cam's interaction with the new character (as opposed to all of the lab members' interaction with him). Then it would really be HER story.
You could also address the issue of revolving assistants for non-BONES viewers by having a couple of lines about how it's yet ANOTHER assistant. Maybe they make a bet on how long this one will last, or keep calling her by the name(s) of various predecessors.
Yes, address the issue head-on -- great advice!
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