Adventures in Speccing & The Trouble with Choice

I don’t really do New Years Resolutions, but I’d love to finish something I write this year. My first challenge? Finishing a spec script. Tis the season for TV writing fellowship submission deadlines and I think I am going to take a crack at actually submitting something. So, right now, I am working on a spec script for the show Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The best thing about spec writing? Rewatching a show you love and getting to call it research.

The best thing about spec writing? Rewatching a show you love and getting to call it research.

I’ve worked on a few specs before. I wrote a Castle spec a few years ago that got completed, but wasn’t good story wise and was way too short. I wrote a Parks and Rec spec that, upon reread, felt authentic to the show and actually had some jokes (!) but was missing a third act resolution and pieces of a plot point were done by the show itself after I’d stopped working on it. And earlier last year, I tried my hand at a Scandal spec. It seemed to be going well while writing it during a show hiatus, but once the show returned, a lot of little points I’d thought of were used on the show and plots/relationships/etc were more and more invalidated each new episode. I’ve also written a few short teaser-type scenes for a sit-com pilot and the first few pages of a drama pilot. Again, nothing I’ve completed.

A lot of my scripts have places where I just keysmash the clever things they should be saying and bracket the actions that should happen between the scenes I've thought of.

A lot of my scripts have places where I just keysmash the clever things they should be saying and bracket the actions that should happen between the scenes I’ve thought of.

Even though each script has gone unfinished or left something to be desired, I’ve felt stronger and stronger about my writing after each attempt. But it is time to finally finish something. The point of writing fellowships is to hone your craft, so hopefully, should I finish something and submit it, it is more about the potential within my script rather than how brilliant it actually is, but as with most writers, you want it to be brilliant from the get go.

Instructor feedback from my unfinished Scandal spec. There's hope for me yet!

Instructor feedback from my unfinished Scandal spec. There’s hope for me yet!

I mostly write this so I am putting it out there. Connie should be working on her spec script. I’ve got an A story (recently developed, but I finally feel good about the direction it’s going), a nemesis for the main character (though I’m still working out obstacles), an emotional trajectory, a B-story involving Terry, Rosa, and Gina, and a vague idea for a C-story that maybe should tie into the A-story?

What I’ve noticed is that I am paralyzed by choice when it comes to writing fiction. There are so many paths a character could take, so many ways a character could be, which determines where the story goes. What if I choose wrong? If I pick between two ideas and one isn’t working, does that mean the other is better? Or should I break my brain trying to make idea number one work? I spend a lot of time stuck at the fork in the road and when I pick one, I keep wondering what’s down the other path. It’s definitely a struggle. And that’s all in the outlining. Once I’ve started, the characters start speaking and want to do different things than what I’ve planned, which affects where the story goes and thus all the little pieces I’ve thought of start to fall apart. Hence why I never finish anything. Even if I stop thinking about the road to the other side of the last fork in the road, a new one comes and I become overwhelmed with choice and the fear of missed moments of awesome. Also, there’s the giving up and the getting distracted, and the chronic procrastination, and ooh books! –ooh, new TV shows! –ooh, other ideas I should write! Typical writer problems.

So my goal for early 2015 is to finish this spec script. I bought an iPad around Christmas and it’s actually been helping me to be really productive. I’ve written about 7 pages of notes in Pages solely on my iPad while rewatching the show and on my commutes to work. And I bought Final Draft for iPad, which I think will be a really good way to write while on the go. So here’s to finishing this spec script. Hopefully the abundance of choice won’t be so paralyzing — I can just use those ideas in a second script. This post is to get my feelings out and for you readers to hold me accountable via comments, or Twitter, or wherever you see me lurking on the internet. Because if I’m on Twitter, I’m not writing. (But don’t take away my internet, research spurns ideas!)

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Reaction to an act out I think for my Scandal spec. LOL!

Happy writing!

Are any of you working on some works-in-progress that you’d like completed this year?

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Speccing & The Trouble with Choice

  1. Christina says:

    So happy I stumbled upon this. Its makes me feel a little better knowing I’m not the only one struggling with this. I’m also working on a spec for Brooklyn 99. Currently trying to get the pace and deliveries. Attempting to write the flashbacks are a killer. After reading this I actually received some inspiration. Keep writing and submit to every fellowship out there. I wish you the very best.
    Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Connie says:

      Thank you so much for this response, Christina! I’ve been neglecting my blog and my writing recently so this was a wonderful boost and a great start to the year for me. I hope to get back at it soon and I hope you’ve finished your spec!! =D Happy New Year and thanks SO MUCH for commenting!!

      Like

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