Yesterday’s post on what spec to write has generated a lot of Friday Questions. So let me address them today.
First off, several people asked why I omitted NEW GIRL? Just an oversight. If you want to write one of those Fox-style shows I’d say it’s your best bet. Someone asked about writing a LOUIE. I wouldn’t. It’s soooo specific to Louis C.K.’s voice. I don’t believe anyone other than Louie can write one.
Okay. Your questions:
Andrew starts us off:
Do you think that something like Girls, where the characters tend to go through development more over the course of a season than in something like Modern Family or Big Bang Theory runs the risk of being dated very quickly? Is this the same with any show that has a lot of plot development? If you write a spec Girls script now, will it seem very dated 4 weeks into the season?
Yes. It’s harder to write a show where the characters evolve quickly because it’s like you’re shooting a moving target. And chances are you miss.
On the other hand, your show doesn’t have to be up to date up to the minute. Producers understand. If you wrote a MODERN FAMILY before Haley graduated high school, that’s still in an acceptable window. I wouldn’t, however, shop around a spec TWO AND A HALF MEN with Charlie Sheen still in it. It’s been two years and you've had more than enough time to size up the changes.
Shows that are serialized are generally not good candidates for specs – comedies or dramas. Unless their format allows for stand-alone stories in addition to the serialized threads. An example would be THE GOOD WIFE. You could concentrate on an interesting legal case. Whether Alicia goes back to Peter or Will is not something you need to address.
Al has a couple of questions:
What do you think about writing specs for shows that are heavily "improv" type shows? I was trying to strategize what my next spec would be and happened upon an idea for "The League".
The problem with specs for shows that utilize a lot of improvisation (like THE LEAGUE or CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM) is that it’s hard to really capture the show’s voice. Your script will most likely feel “written” and thus "off."
There is no other show currently on the air that has the sensibility of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. So if that’s your sense of humor, take a shot at it.
Remember, you don’t have to show every spec you write. If you try an episode of THE LEAGUE and don’t feel it worked, junk it. All it cost you was time and not even paper these days.
Also, how effective is it to write a spec for a show not on a major network? There are a lot of quality shows on cable, but I'm worried producers may not be familiar enough with the show to warrant a read.
It’s perfectly acceptable to write a cable show. Depending on the show, producers might be more familiar with a cable show than a network show. Trust me, more producers know SHAMELESS than BEN AND KATE.
Do the same guidelines apply if someone wants to write for a kids' show? "Good Luck, Charlie" spec -- bad idea?
And finally, Johnny Walker wonders:
If YOU were going to write a spec right now, which show would you write it for?
MODERN FAMILY or PARKS AND REC. But they’re more my sensibility and I watch those shows regularly so I know them the best. Doesn't mean you should.
Best of luck, everyone!