Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tripple Knitter

I'm not treading water with my Dexter spec, I'm actually swimming backwards.

Having almost finished my beat sheet, I realized the new season begins in just over 2 months. So even if I'm finished this within the next month, that leaves 1 month until my spec becomes obsolete. So I'm back to re-writing the plots, specifically the one with Lila and anything concerning the BHB. I think I will place my episode directly after the end of the season finale. That should let my spec last the longest since by then all the threads are tied up, and I can be more free to do a contained episode.

Aside from my spec, a few friends have asked me to help them with writing their scripts, and now I'm finding myself stretched a little thin; I can't spend all the time I need to on my own script, and neither can I totally be 100% involved in theirs. Compound this with a day job and it does not make for a productive lifestyle. It's like knitting three sweaters at once. I think I may need to step back from the secondary projects to get this spec done as fast as possible.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Meniscus Point

After reading so many different books and taking so many classes on how to write, I think I'm at the point now that any new writing advice feels useless. Not that I believe I'm so good that I can't take advice, but I'm sitting at a meniscus point; I've internalized screenplay structure to the point that any new info seems to conflict with what I already know. I've read so many different styles and techniques for screenwriting that I now just have to nurture my own style.

On Denis McGrath's suggestion, this weekend I picked up a copy of Billion-Dollar Kiss by Jeffrey Stepakoff. Stepakoff's book is exactly what I'm into right now - looking into the world of Hollywood and how it works. How others have made it outside of having talent. And it's imprinted a big footprint on my ass. Stepakoff talks about his first TV spec, written while he was at school; he wrote a spec of the half-hour show Molly Dodd in one week. This one spec impressed John Wells and then got Stepakoff an agent in LA. One week! I know Dexter is hour-long and is a more complex show than Molly Dodd, but reading that has made me write like a maniac over the last couple days.

Makes me think though. I thought you needed 3 specs: 2 existing shows and 1 original pilot/play/ect... Right now I have 1 Heroes spec and 1 original TV script. Would it be a mistake for me to start looking for an agent before I have the Dexter completed?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing Group #1

I attended my first writing group meeting on Monday. It's composed of people in various stages of their screenwriting careers, some of whom are pro and some of whom are on their way (or at least think they are). Most have at least one produced credit; one of them wasn't there because she's apparently got something going in LA, and another guy that presented his pilot last week has set up pitch meetings with broadcasters this week, so they're all people who are serious about the craft.

One thing I wonder is whether it should matter that most of the people in the group are screenwriters, while I'm aiming mostly towards TV. I suppose a script is a script, but can they can help me as much as a group of TV writers could? They'll give me good notes on character and structure, but may not be aware of what a TV spec script needs to be (whether I'm capturing the voice of the series, the characters, ect). Of course, this is all conjecture and I'll know once I bring in my own material. For all I know they've all studied TV writing as well.

Another thing is that instead of everyone sending their scripts to each other a week or two before, the people presenting just bring in their scripts on the day and they have a cold read of it before they start talking about it. This strikes me as odd because it seems like it would be too tedious to read through an entire feature (or teleplay) script and then dissect it, and you hardly have time to think about criticism. In the meeting we only looked at scenes, short sequences or outlines, which may limit the usefulness of the meeting.

But then, I've never joined a group before so perhaps this is how things are done. And I don't want to be the annoying new guy. At least not until my third meeting.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I sent off my Heroes spec to the teleplay competition at the Austin Film Festival today. That's the third screenwriting competition I've applied to. Though I resisted, at the last minute (today) I gave in and paid my $30. Is this the screenwriting equivalent of playing the lottery? Every time I fix on my two brass brads I feel kinda like an old lady buying a scratch and win ticket.

As I was running to the post office to mail it off I saw an acquaintance having a beer on a patio. When I told them about the competition, and my aspirations, they told me that they had a fantastic idea that they just needed a writer for. I've noticed this a lot from non-writers, which is that everyone thinks they have a good idea, because everyone does. Or well, they think they do, but really they haven't thought it far enough through. But either way, I'm not a vacuous writing vessel waiting in limbo for a good idea; I'm too busy writing my own ideas, and even those are backed up. I think up new ideas for spec films and pilots faster than I could ever write them (every time I have an idea, which is often, I jot it down into a massive idea list that I've amassed over the years).

Of course, this was all internal, while outwardly I humoured him and said that yes, we definitely should go for a drink and talk about his wonderful idea.