This summer I have plans to work on a couple TV spec scripts. I wouldn’t be in LA and I wouldn’t be working in the entertainment industry if screenwriting, both feature and TV, didn’t interest me greatly. I hope to do as much as I can with both my fiction writing and my writing in other forms. I hope that the more I write, the more I learn about who I am as a writer and where my strengths are.
So, let’s talk about TV writing for a second.
I mostly watch half hour comedic television shows: the Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Community, Parks & Recreation, etc.
I also have been a fan of Dexter, although I’ve fallen behind and the same thing with the Office. I watched the first season of Hung with my old roommates, as well as recently canceled sitcom Accidentally on Purpose. But for someone who enjoys books and movies in the sci-fi, drama, and thriller category, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect there.
It’s important in TV writing that you figure out what kind of shows are “you” and that you can prove through spec writing and pilot writing that you can do that genre well. At the same time, you need to be able to capture a show’s essence in your spec and it’s easiest to do that with shows you watch.
I’ve been thinking: what kinds of shows would I really want to write for? On first glance, I’d say Community, Parks & Recreation and the Big Bang Theory. I’d have fun coming up with plot lines for those shows. I already co-wrote a spec for the Office last summer with my brother and we had a lot of fun doing that. I was able to interwine A, B and C plotlines and the spec held up through a couple rounds of feedback in my old writers’ group. But, the tightening of the comedic dialogue came mostly from my brother while I controlled the interweaving plotlines and first scene drafts. I’ll still give comedies another shot, and if anything, they should be good practice, but I can’t help but feel like I’m not the best fit for straight up, half hour, sitcom-type comedies. They aren’t completely me.
Shows that combine drama with some wry humor seem more up my ally. Shows like Dexter, Hung and perhaps Breaking Bad. I’ve heard such good things about Breaking Bad from reviews and friends that I’ve decided I need to catch up on it and see if it’s a show I could spec. I also would like to investigate a couple other shows, perhaps one that has some sci-fi element in it. I enjoyed the pilot of V, but I’d have to watch more to decide if it’s a show I’d like to write for.
So that’s where I am on the TV writing front and of course, who knows what I’ll think after I try to write for a couple of the aforementioned shows. But I’ve learned a lot through my fiction writing these last six months and I can tell, to some degree, where I should be headed for TV.