Sunday, November 2, 2014

My first spec scripts: Alan Shore & Denny Crane save the day.

When it comes to me as a person, probably the hardest thing about writing has been getting started. It has never been easy for me. Whether it's about writing to a friend, writing a blog post or writing an actual script, I have always struggled with taking the first steps.

So you can perhaps imagine how difficult it was for me and how terrified I was when I was supposed to start writing my first scripts. How on earth would I ever manage to write and finish my two part Boston Legal spec? There's no way I would be able to do it.

I mean, I hadn't written actual scripts before. I had just written some articles and some of them weren't that good. There was a decent chance that I would fail. I had even tried writing a script before - on a word pad - but had given up after a few sentences.

So there definitely was a reason to be worried. At the same time I just felt that I had to get the job done this time. I wasn't getting any younger and I had promised myself that at some point I would give it a shot. No matter what, I would try it.

Naturally I wasn't really sure where to start from. I had read some tv writing books that gave me some advice. I even had gotten myself the latest version of Final Draft. So at least I had done some preparations. But I still needed to figure out what to write about.

In any case, for quite some time I had thought about writing a script about the John F. Kennedy assassination. I felt that there were things that needed to be said about it. I had studied the case for like eight years already. It was probably the greatest story (n)ever told.

So I came up with a revenge plot as my main storyline. I tried to pitch it to my friend and I quickly noticed that I was horrible at explaining story ideas. "This researcher guy kills a famous Oswald did it author who is a complete fraud (a la Gerald Posner) and then, uh uh...

Worst pitch ever - but the storyline was still good enough. It was so strong that it required more than just one episode to be told completely. Murdering a guy in a public place and then hoping that the jury would agree with why he did it. It was a risky idea for me too.

Boston Legal was pretty much the perfect show for my idea. It contained a lot of silly storylines but it also tended to be really serious when that was required. As David E. Kelley himself said, the show had jokes, jokes, jokes and then it preached like hell in the final act.

Of course I needed other storylines too. In these two episodes I also had stuff like tree-hugging and Denny Crane deciding in a private poker game the republican nominee for the 2012 election. There was also stuff about gaming addiction and a storyline about junior sports.

As I was writing these scripts, it quickly became clear how much I loved being able to be a social commentator. I had the chance to be totally tongue-in-cheek and the next minute I'd be able to be switch gears and be really preachy and serious.

Among other things in my spec I had the 'return' of Joey Heric. The trees were named after Will Hunting's imaginary brothers, Denny Crane made a fool of himself in court - and I got to write a seven page closing argument for Alan Shore to preach and to scream.

It really was like a dream come true. I could compete with my biggest hero Kelley. As improbable as it was, I was able to read the characters at least as well as the writers on the show. Writing closing arguments was pretty much the most fun I'd had in my whole life. I felt so lucky.

It wasn't an easy process, however. Writing a script for the first time is not something that you should take lightly. There were so many things about writing that I didn't know before. (I guess there still are) Nevertheless, I had to keep pushing until I reached the finish line.

To be honest, I haven't really read those scripts in like three years - and I guess for a reason. For example, when I check them, I notice that there are some mistakes - things that I didn't notice when I rather quickly wrote the scripts.

But what's worse perhaps and more important, even though there were indeed mistakes, if I did read my scripts again, probably all I would be able to think is that that stuff was just too good for a total beginner like me. It was just too good.

I hope I'm wrong, but no matter what I am going to do and no matter how much I'm going to write, it might be that I will never write anything better than those Boston Legal specs. That's not something that is easy to accept.

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