A logical analysis of creative craft.
If you’ve read my twitter bio (or any pithy cover letter I’ve ever sent), you may be familiar with my extreme passion for spreadsheets. As a technical newbie in the television industry, data collection and analysis has been my stand-in education for the mechanics of writing for TV. Starting as a playwright, one of the most glaringly stark challenges in transitioning from medium to medium was simply, format. Plays are easy. I mean, not to write but to build. They’re usually two acts. Sometimes they’re one. Sometimes they’re three, if you really want to get crazy. Conceptually, you can build structure to fit your own dramatic need; 20 quick vignettes, one agonizingly long tete-a-tete- the start of any theatrical analysis can grow out of the author’s choices to pace the storyline.
When making the switch to television writing, rather than molding the structure to story, you mold the story to structure. Between commercial breaks and an near-exact run time to nail, the author’s creativity factors in very differently. When writing a spec script, the question comes to not only draft a unique, eye-catching story that will get you a job, but also an understanding of the pre-existing standard that the writer’s room has already assembled. Much unlike playwriting, this team-effort influence over a single writer crafting a buy-in to the table adds a different set of demands to the planning stage of a script.
Below, I talk about my first experience with creating an outline for a spec script and explain the beginnings of my analysis of TBS’s amazing new mystery-comedy-satire (GOD, I love a hyphenated genre), “Search Party”, detailing what both the average and outlying pieces of data have to say about the creativity of writing a script.
Author Note: This post is primarily about the act structure of the first season, but I’ve got approximately 25 pages of raw data about this show (not to mention “Louie” “Girls” and “Broad City) that I will 100% be doing a wikileaks-style dump of in the future. But I want to make charts first.
Continue reading “Excel Sheets Are For Nerds (“Search Party” and the Spec Script)”