Home Contact Biography Works Media News

Jane Recommends
Who Hates Whom / Bob Harris

Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

"The geopolitical equivalent of scorecards that get hawked at ball games. Only Bob could make a user’s guide to our increasingly hostile world this absorbing, this breezy, and—ultimately—this hopeful."
~ Ken Jennings, author of Brainiac


Jane in Print
Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, edited by Jane Espenson

Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie and including Jane Espenson's short story, "Georgiana"

Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson and Glenn Yeffeth

Jane in DVD

Jane in DVD

Now Available:
+Battlestar Galactica Season 3
+Dinosaurs Seasons 3 & 4
+Gilmore Girls Season 4
+Buffy: The Chosen Collection
+Tru Calling
+Angel: Limited Edition Collectors Set

Jane in Progress


Home » Archives » December 2006 » Unwriting
[Previous entry: "What's Wrong With Meredith Gray?"] [Next entry: "Deep Thoughts at the Coffee Bean"]

12/19/2006: Unwriting

More and more writers seem to be doing what I do, namely, moving back and forth between writing for hour dramas and writing for half-hour comedies. Maybe this will ultimately result in more similarities between the way the two kinds of shows are written. But for now, there are still some stark differences.

Unlike drama writers, comedy writers spend a lot of time looking at dialogue *together*. This is because comedy staffs do the group-rewrite thing, going through every line of the script over and over as a group, usually while looking at it projected on a monitor in the writers' room. Lots of time is spent changing jokes, looking for a funnier take on a situation. But I would estimate that just as much time is spent on minor wording tweaks. Usually, this involves removing words, looking for the fastest, tightest version of any line, whether it's a joke or not.

Tightening lines like that is especially important for comedy, where timing is an integral part of the whole point of the exercise. As a spec writer, you don't have the -- advantage? distraction? -- of a whole room full of people chiming in on the best way to tighten a line, so you have to do it on your own. It's worth making a whole separate pass through your script, just looking for words to cut.

Do you have someone saying: "That's what I've been trying to tell you!"? Does it maybe work better as, "I've been sayin'!"? In comedy, faster is almost always better (there are exceptions, but in general, fast = good). Make the cut.

Drama doesn't rely as crucially on speed, but timing is still important, and lengthy chunks of speech tend to be boring, and intimidating to the eye of the reader. It's not as important, I would say, in drama, to shorten an eight-word sentence to three words, but it's really important to shorten a five-sentence speech down to two sentences.

Remember, it's a sculpture and you're Michelangelo. Chisel away enough stone and there might be a naked guy inside.

Lunch: poached eggs on a bed of spicy Indian beans


Get Blog Updates Via Email

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



December 2006

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Powered By Greymatter
Greymatter Forums

Home | News | Works | Biography | Frequently Asked Questions

Site design Copyright © PM Carlson
This is a fan site owned and operated entirely by PM Carlson with the cooperation and assistance of Jane Espenson. This site is not affiliated in any way with Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox or ABC.