Quite frankly, there are few places I’d rather be, and I much prefer writing to wasting the day on a beach working on my tan. I get enough sun as it is on my runs.
It was a very productive week. In just four days, I was able to write the second episode of the TV show inspired by my time at NYU. I keep thinking about sharing the working title, but the superstitious writer in me doesn’t want to jinx anything. So it’s just going to stay that show about college.
Speaking of college, check out that photo of me from graduation day. I look dazed and confused, like I have no idea that I’d someday be writing about that very event.
An added bonus to this writing whirlwind was that as I was creating this second adventure, ideas for upcoming episodes kept flooding my brain.
It’s like every time I sit down to work on this project, it opens the spigot of creativity in my mind. I’ve never felt so creative, and I’m already assembling my notes to craft the outline for the next episode.
Might as well keep going while the ideas are flowing, right?
It’s probably unusual to write a follow up episode to a show whose Pilot hasn’t been picked up yet, but I did this for a couple of reasons.
As I mentioned above, the ideas keep coming, so it seemed foolish to ignore them and not keep working while the characters and stories are still so fresh in my mind.
Also, I wanted to show my producer that this is way more than a Pilot. Now he can read the two episodes together and see how the story flows, the characters develop, and that there is more than enough material for an entire season.
I’ve often found that a show’s Pilot is wonderfully written, but then the quality of subsequent episodes declines because the writers spent so much time perfecting the Pilot and putting all the great material into that script.
I needed to prove to myself that episode two could be just as well-written as the Pilot. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to spring the surprise twist of the Pilot in the follow up, but I could make sure the quality of the writing was just as good, if not better.
Even though I had the entire episode outlined before I sat down to write, I am pleased to report that there was plenty of improv and new scenes added during the writing process. As always, I let the story take me on a journey, and things changed as I wrote.
I’ve always preferred to write without an outline, but I am smart enough to recognize that one is needed when I’m dealing with so many characters and an ongoing story that needs to tie up nicely at the end of the hour.
My compromise has been a willingness to just “wing it” within the confines of a rather vague outline, that might say something like “Characters A and B discuss the party”.
This means I start the scene knowing who is in it, and what I need them to talk about, but no idea what they are going to say, what could happen during that conversation, and what other characters might crash the scene.
It’s as if I allow my characters to improvise, but the reality is that I’m just creating on the fly, and writing whatever feels right. I love writing this way, and I think it’s led to some pretty awesome plot twists that might never have occurred to me otherwise.
And by adding new scenes into the episode as they pop into my head, I’m really keeping my creative options open.
Sometimes, this style doesn’t work. The most difficult scene in this episode involved the character based on my future ex-wife. Writing for her was harder than I thought it would be, especially since back in college, I really had a thing for her.
This scene was truly vague in the outline, and I really didn’t know where it was going, but it had to make sense with the very last scene, which was crystal clear in my mind.
So I just wrote it, and moved on to the next scene. Like I always do, I went back and tinkered with it a little over the course of the day, but only made minor changes.
The next morning, however, I woke up knowing exactly what I had to do to make that scene better. It ended up being two pages longer, the tone changed drastically, and while her character pretty much stayed the same, the other character became better developed and drove the conversation in a new direction.
I was very happy with that rewrite, and it raised the bar for my writing for the rest of the day. It was almost like I couldn’t real move on with the episode until I had that scene right, and once I got it there, everything else fell into place.
Something I’m trying with the show is using a pre-written voice over to flesh out the episode’s theme. So one of my challenges is figuring out where to inject the voice over, while also making sure that the action in the scene matches what the narrator is saying.
This is one more reason why an outline is helpful.
I started writing on Monday, and the first draft of the episode was done on Thursday afternoon. Dave has already gotten back to me with very positive notes, and I’m just waiting to hear back from Fitz before I send both episodes to my producer.
Chatted with my producer on Wednesday, and he was very excited to read the scripts.
I’m nervous because I want him to be blown away by them, and to tell me that this is something we definitely have to get made.
I’ve cranked out two episodes so quickly, and know I could have an entire season written soon if this was my full time gig.
You don’t know how badly I want this to happen. I haven’t thought about my other job all week, and I’d much rather write Episode 3 than go back when my vacation ends.
I will keep you posted, but please keep your fingers crossed that I get this gig writing my own TV series…