Back to the Drawing Board

I’m going back to Square One when it comes to my spec outline for Modern Family. Since there is no textbook for writing this thing, or coming up with an outline, I’m going to go back to the first chapter of Ellen Sandler’s “TV Writer’s Workbook.” When I went through it the first time, I already had the kernel of my idea in my head. Perhaps I have to dig a little deeper to get to what the essence of this show is all about, and how to come up with the right story to display my talents. Someone did give me a note about how the show tends to have a unifying theme or something at the end, though it tends to be poorly constructed…

*Just to touch upon what my teacher said briefly, she told me my idea sounded like an episode of Family Guy (as in, sounded too outlandish). Does anyone remember that there was a hot homeless guy who randomly started living in Lily’s playhouse one day? That doesn’t sound ridiculous to anyone? I mean, I thought it was hilarious, but if Jay donning the characteristics of a cat lady is too outlandish, then I don’t know what isn’t.

Anyway, I’m working on chapter 3 of Sandler’s book, in which she reminds us that an integral step in writing a spec is to read existing scripts and really try to understand them. She provides a nifty spreadsheet in which you note which characters end a scene and how many scenes there are, and who appears in the opener, etc. So I’ll be doing that and charting my analysis here, and then reading this guy’s views on the show.


About Michelle

I like pie. And clapping.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in Writing a Half-Hour Comedy Spec and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the shout-out in your post and good luck with your spec….

    For the record, I think the more ridiculous a story is, the better…don’t we want to stand out among all the thousands of MF specs out there? If it ends up not working, then we can always write a new script later…go big or go home…of course I don’t know anything.

    Take care,

  2. Evan, thanks for your comment!! This is what I’m saying, though. Why sound standard when you can be bold? I heard about a writing team who wrote some ridiculous spec of Two of A Kind where Mary-Kate and Ashley become crackhead prostitutes or something like that and they got a job from it! I mean, I know it doesn’t work out like that for everyone. Maybe JUST prostitutes OR crackheads. I don’t know.

  3. Prostitutes and crackheads..hmmm…I think I have the premise for my next Modern Family spec…

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