Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One week. One Pilot (1st draft, that is).

It is done!

One week. One pilot. I think that's acceptable in TV land. 2 days until the CFC application is due, and everything is coming along nicely.

I was very happy with my first draft. I'll venture to say it's the best first draft I think I've ever written. And it's also the longest completely original script I've ever written, as it's my first pilot. So with confidence, in the wee hours of last night I sent out the first draft of my original one-hour dramedy pilot, "Merely Mortal", to my writing group. I know there will inevitably be problems to fix because you can never write a perfect first draft, but there weren't any problems I could see. And I think that's an important distinction to make because you should only ever send out a draft for notes if you can't see anything wrong with it. Too many times people send out drafts and when they get notes they say "oh yeah I knew about that", or they preface their script with the warning that they know there's a problem with this, that or whatever. Well if you knew about it why didn't you fix it? I think it's lazy writing to not try and fix everything you can on your own.

I also don't think a first draft should be the very first draft. It's the best you can make it in your first shot. Your very very first draft will likely be your word-vomit. Personally, I like to just write my first draft as fast as I can and then go back and tweak a bit. Three quarters of the way through my story I realized I was missing an entire plot. So I added that in, finished the script, then went back over it and looked for problems. I found some, fixed them and then sent it out.

Having immersed yourself in the research and characters you will have difficulty being objective about your script after a certain point. You need two things to overcome this: other people and time. Other people will point out things that don't make sense or aren't expained well enough. Once you send out your draft, even if you get notes back immediately, wait at least a day before going back and writing the next draft. You'll see your script with fresher eyes and subconsciously your mind is going over and over your plots, and working it out and identifying problems. So when you come back you will probably find you can point out issues you didn't realize existed.

There have already been notes trickling in (thank you guys!) and tonight I will re-attack the script and try and fix those problems. So far it seems it's all minor stuff, no huge structural changes. And that's not surprising because I felt when I sent it out that it was working well structurally.

I think the main point I'm trying to make is to do your own work, and let others help you in the ways you can't already help yourself.

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