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11/04/2007: I Hope Someone's Working On Witty Signs
Well, Gentle Readers, today finds me digging around for my sunscreen and comfy shoes, because apparently I'm going to be walkin' tomorrow. I haven't talked about the strike yet here, because I really do want this site to be about the scripts, all the time. But if you're curious, and want to hear more about the issues from people who are more articulate on the subject than I am, I invite you to check out UnitedHollywood.com. And if any of you are in Los Angeles, and want to show support, or just learn more about the issues, please come out and join us. I personally intend to be at (well, just outside of) Universal Studios tomorrow from nine to one, along with other writers from Battlestar, Eureka, CSI and Desperate Housewives -- drop by and say "hi." Or drive by and honk.
Now, of course, I can't write during the strike (other than this beloved blog), but you guys can certainly keep working on those spec scripts, so let's see what I can do to help:
I attended an interesting event this week, in which spec writers got to hear actual actors reading their spec pilots. It was very enlightening to hear the words read out loud, and read well. I've mentioned before that I think this is a mistake if you've written a spec episode of a show that already exists, because it's so crucial not to have another voice interfering with your inner echo of the actual actor. But for a spec pilot, there's no reason not to do this, provided you have access to some readers who can do a credible acting job. In fact, I highly recommend it.
One thing you'll immediately notice is when a line is too long, which is often. You'll be crossing words out like crazy. You'll also notice whole pieces of scenes that can be trimmed away. When you read silently to yourself, your eyes tend to speed up over bits that you know well or that bore you or concern you, but hearing it read aloud forces your attention to those parts and makes you address the problems there -- often with a big red X through the whole page.
You'll also notice awkward bits of phrasing, ambiguous lines and logical jumps that can confuse the audience. If your script is funny, you'll be able to gauge if the laughs fall where you anticipated them.
Give it a try, and don't forget to ask your performers what they thought. Actors are often the ones who catch inconsistencies in a script, since they are the ones most invested in following the logical progression of the characters. And, of course, get opinions from other writers. Because writers support each other.
See you on the line.
Lunch: beef shabu shabu with lots of those tiny clear noodles