Last night was the first table read in class of my Modern Family spec script. I had been dreading it for WEEKS, mainly because I had the worst pitch of my life ever — even thinking about it gives me waves of pain.
So I already had the task of redeeming myself. I did that by writing the first scene of the cold open (which is typically two-three scenes). And then I let it sit. For like, two weeks.
Then, I missed a class.
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.