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Home » Archives » February 2006 » Keeping It Fresh (Why Not To)
[Previous entry: "Shooting at a Moving Target. Don't Lead It!"] [Next entry: "Danger Ahead"]

02/07/2006: Keeping It Fresh (Why Not To)

I had dinner with fellow ex-Buffy Doug Petrie last week at a popular Beverly Hills steak house. So much butter! From where I was sitting, I had a view of an aging woman with piles of jet black hair held back by an exotic-fur hair accessory that framed a taut face with dramatic eye-liner and shocking plump glossy red lips and a beauty-mark as big as a toenail. The effect landed somewhere between Cruella De Vil and Cruella De Vil's mother.

Again, this is relevant to the topic at hand. I was talking about the problem of writing spec scripts for a show with arcs in it. A lot of writers who are just starting out worry, more than they need to, about trying to keep their spec scripts totally up-to-date. And there's an approach they sometimes take that I didn't talk about yesterday.

Here's the trick I'm talking about. Sometimes writers will make an effort to keep their spec fresh by making frequent changes to it. After each new episode of their show airs, they adjust their spec to reflect what just happened. That way, whenever they get an agent to agree to read it, it'll smell like a freshly-picked flower. This is trick I used myself, by the way, early on.

But there's a problem. Sure, a script that looks fresh is a plus. But reaching for freshness quickly puts you into the land of diminishing returns. Eventually the script will suffer from the repeated intrusions. You're sticking things into it that aren't organic. And it's often not as seamless as you think. One line added to a scene usually looks very much like one line added to a scene.

It's better to let a spec show a few of the signs of aging than to keep fattening its lips and lifting its keister until even you can't recognize it anymore.

P.S. More lovely letters! A huge Thank You to Ingrid in Germany and Leona in Alabama!

Lunch: a fairly nasty egg-salad sandwich from a gas station and a Kinder Bueno candy bar. Transcendant!


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