Flip the Script

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I was working on my outline yesterday and realized very quickly I had a problem: I’m working on a Good Wife spec, but the case I had chosen was too cut-and-dried. Whatever details I made up, the verdict was obvious. This meant I had the very beginning of an episode and then everything fizzled out by the end of the first act. There was no suspense at all. This was not good. Rather than go back to square one (even though I was probably only on square 1.5 or so), I decided to flip which side of the equation my main character was on. Alicia was representing the person who had clearly done wrong and was going to lose.

This is something to consider when you find yourself stalled in your script. If your main character is in the wrong (for the right reasons, of course), your conflict immediately increases. In addition, how all the other characters were going to deal with this conflict immediately gave me action to carry through the rest of my script.

Note: Not all networks will let you do this. Fox very briefly had a show about defense attorneys, and the hook was that at the end of the episode you’d see how the crime really happened and whether the client was guilty or not. It was not a bad show, but it was quickly canceled. I was talking with one of their PAs much later, and I told him that the problem as I saw it was a network note – the network had clearly dictated that the defendants could never be guilty, because that would make the main characters bad guys and that wasn’t allowed. He looked at me, mouth agape, and said, “that’s exactly what they said.” Yeah, I figured writers hadn’t come up with a concept like this and then decided not to take full advantage all on their own. So if you’re writing a spec, know the show and what they’ll let you get away with.

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About Generation Coax

I am an aspiring TV writer, amateur photographer, and craft hobbyist.
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