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Home » Archives » December 2006 » Deep Thoughts at the Coffee Bean
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12/20/2006: Deep Thoughts at the Coffee Bean

I was at my local coffee shop just now where they're stocking lots of mugs and coffee kits or whatever, hoping for holiday sales. My eye fell upon a mug that read "Happiness is a Journey not a Destination". I was filled with sadness/anger. That is too meaningful a sentiment to fall into common usage. I suppose it's too late, but that is not a thought that I want to see degenerate into meaningless syllables through overuse. I suppose, if it does (or already has), as least it has the virtue of being true, unlike "Everything Happens for a Reason," which is both untrue and dangerous. Really, have you ever heard a slogan that argues more against the concept of free will? Against any notion of self-determination, ambition or even charity, empathy, compassion? It's just an inch away from "Nothing I Do Matters" and "Whatever Happens, You Deserved It," and their neighbor "I Got Mine, You Get Yours." Geez.

Thinking about world views like these isn't a bad place to start looking for meaning for your spec scripts. After all, the thing that will make your spec stand out above all the others is that yours is going to MEAN something. What makes Groundhog Day a spectacular movie and not just a fun one is that isn't really about time loops, it's about living every day AS IF you had eternity in front of you... in fact, you could argue that Groundhog Day EQUALS Happiness is a Journey.

Your script shouldn't preach. And it doesn't have to be about a big principle either. It can be about a small observation. But it needs to be about something, and it would be nice if it was something you really believed. Think about your personal philosophy and the philosophies of the characters you're writing about. What principles guide Gregory House? ("Compassion Blunts Excellence"? "Distance Lessens Pain"?) What events would bring out or test those guiding principles?

By the time you're done writing, the meaningful underpinnings may be so subtle that the "about" is almost subconscious. But it's going to serve you well to have it there.

Lunch: Udon with Mentaiko -- do you know this? A hot Japanese noodle soup with a sort of casing full of fish roe in it? Like noodles with caviar. Fantastic.


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