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Home » Archives » May 2007 » Did you Know Cameron and Chase are Their Last Names?
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05/24/2007: Did you Know Cameron and Chase are Their Last Names?

If you're preparing a spec of an existing show to submit to the ABC/Disney fellowship, you've spent a certain amount of time by now researching your show. You've read produced scripts, you've watched all the episodes you can, and you've analyzed the structure of the episodes and the personalities and relationships of all the characters. At a certain point, you start to think like an expert.

It's tempting to let all that erudition show in the spec. Be careful. Remember that you're not writing for the creator of the show. You're writing for the people who go through the submitted entries over at Disney. There's no reason to expect an expert's level of knowledge of the show.

Keep this in mind as you write. If you've been studying The Office, you know that Andy is the one played by Ed Helms, you never confuse Toby and Oscar, and you remember all the details of Phyllis's wedding. But your reader might have a more passive memory of these facts. They know the Andy character, but they may not have the name at their fingertips. And a quick snipe from Pam about Phyllis stealing her ideas might not land, if the reader doesn't instantly recall that Phyllis recycled all of Pam's wedding plans.

So help the reader out. Avoid building plots that hinge crucially on the reader having seen one particular episode, and provide clues to help the reader remember which character they're supposed to picturing. "Stanley reacts with the deadest of deadpans." -- Ah! Now I remember Stanley.

A good test might be to have your mother, roommate or co-worker read the script. Pick someone who's seen the show but who isn't a ravenous fan. Ask them where they got confused. And pay attention even if they say they "eventually worked it out" or "it got clear later." You don't want your readers spending mental energy figuring out which one is Meredith when they should be laughing.

This obviously doesn't just apply to "The Office". Your reader may not be able to tell their Cameron from their Chase, either.

Lunch: a nice salad with grilled chicken from "Aldente cafe"


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