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July #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop: Writing My First Spec Script for Television

Happy blog hop day everyone and thank you so much for stopping by mine. By the time you're reading this, we will be well into the month of July and I will have officially begun my Camp NaNoWriMo project. I'm writing this post at the end of June while preparing my plan of attack over the next 31 days in which I plan to write my first ever spec script for television.

If you're not familiar with Camp NaNoWriMo, you can check out this blog post where I go into more detail. In essence, it's a month where writers worldwide dedicate themselves to a particular project of their choosing. But personally, I like to think of it as a giant pause button. NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo have become my sole excuse to put down my novel with its seemingly endless revisions and pause for a month to focus on something new. Somehow doing so under the established framework of NaNoWriMo is easier for me than simply picking a random month of my own choosing, which I know I would never do if left to my own devices.

What is a spec script, you ask?

A spec script is a sample episode of a TV series, either an original pilot episode of a show you've created or an original episode of an existing show. Writers typically write them to either sell or to secure representation. Aspiring television writers are generally encouraged to write a spec of an existing popular show to prove they are able to take on someone else's ideas, tone, themes, characters, etc. The spec script will show that you have what it takes to step right into a show and write it as authentically as if it were an actual episode.

As a major TV and film buff, screenwriting is something I've always wanted to do but instead let it slip to the back burner as I pursued novel writing. Despite an exhilarating screenwriting class in college, doubt continued to derail me. Thoughts like, screenwriting doesn't make sense unless I live in California or the odds of making it as a novelist are far higher than making it in film or television. At the start of 2020, I decided no more excuses. This year I would finally write that script with the faith that my writing career will flow in the direction it is supposed to.

The Show

Comedy or Drama, that was the question. While selecting which show to spec, I had to ask myself not only what show do I know backwards and forwards, but which genre do I see myself slipping into more naturally? The Office was the most obvious choice as I've watched the entire series several times now and don't ever seem to tire of its characters, premise and overall absurdity. 

The Plan

With only 31 days in the month of July to research, brainstorm, outline and you know, write the script, I separated each task by week.

WEEK ONE: Refresh myself on screenplay formatting and other necessary research. Begin brainstorming plot ideas.
WEEK TWO: Find and read existing scripts of The Office. Absorb the character voices and direction. Flesh out an outline.

WEEKS THREE AND FOUR: Pump out a quick rough draft.

WEEK FIVE: Read through and edit.

Books I'm reading this month:
  • Inside the Room by Linda Venis
  • Screenwriting Tricks of the Trade by William Froug
  • Elements of Style for Screenwriters by Paul Argentini
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

My Goals

While I'm certain this Camp NaNoWriMo will in no way end with a polished, completed script at the ready, I am optimistic that I will at least have something to work with by the end of this month. If my efforts return nothing more than brushing up on formatting, increasing my confidence and getting to finally put my passion into practice, then I will consider them a success.

If you've ever considered screenwriting but haven't taken the leap, I hope to have inspired you in even the slightest way. It's never too late to pursue a passion project or learn a new skill. If writing brings us joy, then as far as I'm concerned, we owe it to ourselves to explore our creative instincts no matter their outcome.

Any other screenwriters out there? I'd love to hear about what you write and your experience. If you're a novelist, let me know your thoughts on screenwriting. Have you ever considered giving it a try?

This post is part of the July 2020 Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers here!

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  1. You go! Can't wait to hear all about your experience and your success!

  2. How exciting! I would love to turn my current WiP into a miniseries so u shall be watching with interest.

    1. That's great! From what I've learned so far, the format for television is very different, even from writing for feature films. I have so much still to learn, but it's all very fun.

  3. Sounds like a super busy month. WOW! I'm impressed. Good luck!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I didn't plan very well. :p I've been super busy, but having a lot of fun!

  4. I have been loving re-watching The Office throughout the lockdown. I'm so glad you chose that show and I would love to read your take on it! Thanks for sharing your plan outline!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I love The Office too. I watched it for the first time a couple of years ago and since then can't stop re-watching! It's hilarious!

  5. I'm definitely interested in screenwriting, but like you, I've had reservations about investing time. I love your idea of diving in during nanowrimo. It makes me feel like I can wrap my head around the time investment.

    1. Yes, exactly! I have such a hard time putting something down when it isn't finished, but NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo have been game-changers for me.

  6. Congrats on taking the leap into screenwriting. I have no idea how to do it, but I would love to see a screen play I wrote actually come to life on the stage or screen. Wishing you success in CampNaNo AND show business!!
    JQ Rose

    1. Thank you so much! I've learned a lot this month and still just scratching the surface! There are so many differences between screenwriting and novel writing. But it's been so fun to play with ideas and funnel my creativity into a different format.

  7. Good luck! I'll stick with novel writing ;-)

    Ronel catching up for July Author Toolbox day Three Roles to Avoid When Creating Characters

  8. This is something I would love to learn - script writing. It is a great post thank you


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