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 » November 2007 » You Could Call It "Time Out"
[Previous entry: "On Top of Mount Percentile"] [Next entry: "I Hope Someone's Working On Witty Signs"]

11/01/2007: You Could Call It "Time Out"

In a remarkable display of something… Efficiency? Coincidence? Necessity?... two of you have sent in the same question. Adam in West Hollywood says:

... here I am, sketching out ideas for original pilots, and I can't shake the nagging question of whether or not they'd stand out. [...] [S]hould I be writing a pilot that's more shocking instead of more touching or quirky or filled with those emotional character moments?

While, across town, Megan in Los Angeles chimes in:

... my question is whether a family-friendly emotional pilot with a small hook has any chance of competing against a high-concept pilot. (ie. "30 year old former child star moves back to hometown to live with her sister" vs. "girls' volleyball team discovers locker room is a time portal!")

Both gentle readers want to write the less "shocking" spec pilots, but are worried about whether that's the right choice. Well, I hate to disappoint, but I certainly think a strong, unusual, surprising hook helps. I mean, admit it, Gentle Readers, didn't you perk up when you thought about that volleyball team and their time portal? If both scripts were in front of you, which one would you be tempted to peek at? They're a volleyball team! With a time portal!

Remember, just because you pick a more out-there premise, it doesn't mean you have to lose all the great subtle character stuff that you would do in your more standard story. I certainly would like to think that the team captain, traveling back in time to witness her parents' first meeting, would have a lovely emotional reaction to it. Adam is, I think, setting up a false choice when he contrasts "shocking" with "touching". Buffy the Vampire Slayer would've made a great spec pilot if it hadn't already been a movie. The concept - even the title - is manifestly startling, but the writing is subtle and emotional. And touching.

What you don't need, and this may actually be what Adam is referring to when he says "shocking," is to load your story with turns that are surprising because they lack motivation or are extra violent or prurient for no other reason than to get a visceral reaction. That's never a good idea. But coming up with a new and intriguing story hook that makes people curious… that's never a bad idea.

Lunch: believe it or not, that heirloom tomato salad again. But I think this'll be the last time for a while.


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



November 2007

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.