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Home » Archives » October 2006 » I Think I've Got the Right Fable. Industrious Ant, Profligate Grasshopper?
[Previous entry: ""I Live in Fear of Coolio's Inevitable Comeback" and Other Funny Captions"] [Next entry: "Ungulates with Plans"]

10/28/2006: I Think I've Got the Right Fable. Industrious Ant, Profligate Grasshopper?

There's a saying in television that you hear a lot these days, "Don't save anything." It's generally used to mean "put your best moments on screen early in the run of the show." So, even if you have in mind a tender three-episode arc that culminates in a STUNNING MOMENT... well, there are very few new shows that feel comfortable gambling that they'll be around three episodes from now. So there's a tendency to cut to the chase. Mix this with the network's desire to air the episodes so that the strongest ones air first, and there's a great tidal force pushing all the BIG EVENTS up early.

There can be a tendency to do something similar in a spec pilot too. I've got two supporting characters in the pilot I'm writing now whom I adore. I know that there is great fun to be had in giving them a scene together. But the pilot story doesn't really accommodate it. So I keep telling myself that I'm "saving" their interaction for episode two. And yet "Don't save anything" is echoing in my ears. What's a writer to do?

Well, you've probably all already anticipated the problem with "Don't save anything." The STUNNING MOMENT that ends a three-episode build may not be as stunning without all the set-up. And the forced encounter between my two supporting characters won't be nearly as much fun as it will be when there's a legitimate story reason for them to be thrown together.

So, sure, don't write a pilot that does nothing but promise thrilling encounters yet to come, but don't feel, either, that you have to wring every possible drop of juice out of an unyielding orange. Sometimes, the story of the grasshopper and the ant is true, and it's okay to save.

Lunch: A new idea. Drained a can of chicken noodle soup, saving just the noodles. Put that MRE-style packaged Indian bean dish over it. A new taste treat.


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