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Home » Archives » June 2006 » That's right. It steals tongues
[Previous entry: "Bobbing for Bad Apples"] [Next entry: "House Dry-Swallows a Valium"]

06/19/2006: That's right. It steals tongues

They're tearing down a building near the one I live in and putting up a bigger, fancier one. I had some concern that my pretty view would be blocked, so I went to the public hearing at the … what was it … some kind of planning commission. I imagined that I was letting myself in for an evening that would manage to be both boring and contentious. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but, yeah, there were aspects of both boredom and contention as the issue of parking garage clearances was debated. There are some TV jobs that feel like that. You have to sit and listen to people arguing passionately about adjective choice on an episode of "Mom's in the Kitchen," or whatever.

Which brings us back to bad television. Yesterday, I talked about the benefits of bad television. But bad TV is more than just a crappy wonderland of writing examples. It's also potential employment. If you're writing spec scripts, you're doing so in hopes of being hired by a show. Sure, you might be hired by House or Battlestar or Veronica Mars. But you might not be. You might instead be hired by "Cat's Got Your Tongue," a new drama about a kleptomaniac demon passing as an ordinary housecat.

What do the writers on "Cat's" do, then, to try to get a better job the next time they're on the market? They write spec scripts. Even very experienced writers sometimes have to write fresh new specs. If you're on a high-profile show, you can use the actual episodes that you have had produced as your samples, but if your show is more obscure or not respected, you're going to have to write something better-known and classier. Some writers embrace this as a chance to prove to themselves that they can still write quality. And, in a way, isn't that part of the glory of the spec process? It gives us all a chance to see how'd we do if we were handed an assignment by our Dream Show.

So keep Tivoing the good shows, and keep collecting produced examples and keep polishing your spec-writing instincts. You'll probably be using them for a while.

Oh – and don't worry that as a not-yet-hired writer your specs will be competing against the specs of people already in the business… they're competing for higher-ranking jobs. You all are just competing against each other. And you KNOW you're better than each other.

Lunch: quesadilla and a coke.


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