6.01.2008

How many writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


I'm not sure what the punch line is, but I know it's certainly not a team of one where I'm concerned. I've been spending two months staring at a damn socket scratching my head.

Let me elaborate:

My Dexter outline/burgeoning spec has been in a state of flux for some time. I love the concept, but something just wasn't right. So I had people read it, and I got a collection of responses that basically added up to: make it a stand alone story.

I, of course, saw the logic of this approach. I think I was just stubbornly gripping onto my outline because I spent so much time on it, and I love the arcs of Dexter. It's an arc show, and cutting those out felt like a lobotomy to me. So I held on pretty tight.

So do you think I let go when a manager clearly broadcasted the concept that a lot of people haven't seen much besides a few episodes of the first season when she asked me if Dexter was still with "the little blonde chick?"

No.

How about when Lisa Klink put her writerly stamp of approval on the stand alone approach?

Nope.

But after a slew of people kept hitting me over the head, of course I started working on the concept to make it as stand along as possible. But I just couldn't pull it out of Season 2. And people kept smacking me.

Let's go the videotape, so to speak, for a list of those who were good enough to try and nudge me in the right direction:


the manager
P
Maggie (Bootstrap Maggie)
Lisa Klink
Lady A
Michael (of Red Right Hand)


So apparently it takes six people to screw in my light bulbs.

It was on Saturday that I had a "what the hell is my problem" epiphany. Michael and I got together to get some Chicago style dogs at Taste Chicago in Burbank, and as I was talking about my spec I started to realize how it sounded.

I had Gail in the story. Gail. A tertiary character who's only in three or four episodes.

F-ing A. Here I was, all retarded over my story, and I'm shooting myself in the foot over Season 2 because I'm in love with the arcs. And I'm specing a show that's all about character. Dexter is all about Dexter. It's a faux-procedural about a moral-grey-area killer with an absence of formula. Character is the damn lynchpin of the show.

So I put my cards on the table: I sat down on my desk (the table in this scenario, I guess), and listed out all the scenes/moments/touches that got that filament in the newly screwed in light bulb to glow. And then I listed all the Season 2 elements and figured out what I could replace them with.

Then after reexamining the newly stripped down framework, I tinkered with the core of my story, restabilized the theme, and built myself up a new blueprint.

It's disorienting that you can spend so much time studying a show, and then coming up with an idea that speaks to that show's core issues, to the bloody thumps of its heart -- and then you have to take that idea and step away from the show. Otherwise that idea can get lost in the comparison, in the effort it takes to try and force your Frankensteinian story into it's inner workings, instead of just letting it be.

I'm still teetering a bit; the light bulb is flickering.

But I think things are on the right track. I think I'm better off.

And it only took six...

ps. Thanks to the six.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Any time! : )