So, August 22 happened.
I did credit the source in my interview, but it, along with my other two, more emotionally trenchant pieces of advice were edited out, fair enough. I first gleaned this from either the novelization of Summer of ’42 or its sequel, the novelization of Class of ’44. Neither is text-searchable on Amazon or Google Books, sadly.
Take it away, Frank.
I worked this summer as a reader for one of the network television writing fellowship programs. I was one of four readers who together read about 1100 scripts. Last year, when my writing partner and I did the same program, we had written one of 8 scripts admitted from a pile of 900; this year the number of slots were the same, so the odds were even lower. After talking to someone at Thanksgiving about the process of applying to another one of the fellowships, I decided to write up some tips I gleaned from reading such a big pile.
The trend right now for hiring in television is towards original material (“pilots”) rather than sample episodes of existing shows (“specs”). However, most of the writers’ fellowships still require specs. I think this is a good thing; I think it’s important to master a spec episode of an existing show before attempting a pilot, even if agents, managers and showrunners are less interested in reading specs right now. Even if you’re not planning to enter a script in one of the fellowships, I still recommend writing a spec of a show you love. Hopefully this advice will be helpful.
The summer I spent in England I found Viz magazine, which ran a Hints from Heloise-parody called “Top Tips.”
The one I remember laughing at out loud in the middle of Piccadilly Circus (so disappointing, by the way) was “Paint a small red cross at the bottom of your teacup. When you see the cross, you’ll know it’s time to add more tea.”
Anyway, here’s a kitchen tip. You know how it’s endlessly frustrating to chase a bit of eggshell around a bowl of cracked eggs? If you use a spoon or your finger, the little bugger will still get tantalizingly close, then slip away from your grasp. Or spoon. (Also, don’t use your finger.)
Here’s a trick that works every time:
Use an eggshell. The most solid-looking of your discarded half-shells.
It’s thin enough to scoop out the runaway without just pushing around the protective layer of white.
Back in college, on full moons in summer, we would drive to the next valley down, take off all our clothes, and slide down the sand dunes to hear them sing.
I’ve returned to the dunes nearly every summer that I’ve lived in Los Angeles. It’s a long haul, but it’s awesome to introduce new visitors to the dunes. And the experience holds up in its own right.