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July 1st, 2007


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01:19 pm - Two writing questions--one about a TV spec, one about using existing pop culture in fiction
I'd love all your thoughts on these ideas, either opinions, or actual information you might have (or where I might find such).

My first question is: which would make a better Supernatural TV spec?

I have my own opinion about this, based on things I have heard and read about television spec writing. Mostly, it's best to write a spec that is as good as the best episodes of a particular show, but which won't become completely invalid too quickly (some shows are easier that way than others, and it's not a huge issue if something changes and "invalidates" your spec, as long as it's good enough and could have been an episode once).

I have two ideas for an SPN spec.

One of them involves deciding on at least two pieces of mytharc, and running with the implications. Problem: as of the end of the 2nd season finale, we have no clue whether either of these things will even be an issue anymore, much less to the point I wanted to play with them. (Sam's visions--will he still get them? Is Sam really the absolute last of the YED's "special children" still alive on earth?) Bonus: I could poke my fingers into the SPN ideas about faith and religion. Just a bit, as they've done in episodes like "Houses of the Holy."

The other idea is probably better to write in terms of not (um, probably) being jossed. It's a stand-alone hunt, which starts out straightforward and turns out to be far, far more complicated and wrenching than the boys expect. I was really leaning towards the mytharc idea until Dean finally told me what would scare him the worst (Dean, I love you, never change), and suddenly made this particular stand-alone far more interesting.

Can't. Decide! Argh....


And the second question involves a murder mystery film, set at a fan convention (and by extension, an idea for a novel whose protagonists are geeks).

I've already tackled this idea in conjuction with a screenplay I'm writing: a murder mystery which takes place at a fan convention. (One of my attempts to "write what I know"--and hey, it hadn't been done yet!) I really didn't want to mess with copyright issues, or trying to get specific actors on board with it as a film, so feliciakw helped me create a completely fictional TV show, "Second Sight," and establish the basic structure of its fandom. It's working quite well, and I've actually contemplated writing a TV pilot based on this fictional show concept.

An original, realistic YA novel I've had in the back of my brain for years is presenting a different take on the problem. This story is mildly autobiographical, and I'm having trouble finding a way to focus it. If I went for the most realistic symbols or expression of theme (from my own experience), there would be a book or a TV show or something similar which would form an underlying base for the journey, for the connection between the two best friends. But I'm not sure if copyright would preclude that. Anyone have any ideas? I could go for something old enough to be in the public domain, but it would work better, I think, if it were more modern, closer to actual pop culture.


Ah, the things one must decide while writing.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(27 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:July 1st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
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Regarding the YA novel, I think copyright could preclude it, although with such an oblique influence whoever owns the rights would have a heck of a time fighting it out. I'd say that it could be published with a signed and notarized letter to the effect that it's alright to use the source's fandom.

Along that line, I bet Star Wars would be the best fandom to use, as Lucas has been nothing if not generous to the fandom.

-JD
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
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That's...a clever idea. I hadn't considered Star Wars, but Lucasfilm has indeed been generous, and there stuff in SW (Jedi vs. Sith, ways of considering the Force) that might readily play into the themes of my story. Hmmmm.
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From:kerravonsen
Date:July 1st, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
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For the spec, go for the stand-alone one. Not only is it better not being jossed, but things like overall plot-arcs (I haven't seen Supernatural, but what you're describing sounds like one of those), they tend to be driven by TPTB, and you don't want to give the impression that you're the kind that "doesn't play nice" by second-guessing the intent of TPTB. Leave that for fanfic.

As for referencing popular culture, that's a tricky one. The tendency seems to be, in this copyright-nazi culture, to NEVER refer to an existing property, but if one wants to reference something specific, to invent something recognisably similar, but with a different name. Such as Galaxy Quest, or Professor X.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I think I'm going to write the stand-alone. More challenging, in some ways, but no second-guessing TPTB, as you say. (SPN is pretty intense with their arcing plots, yes. Although...I've been saying NO to writing fic because of my spec, but that other idea is sooo tempting.... Maybe after I'm done with the spec....)

The tendency seems to be, in this copyright-nazi culture, to NEVER refer to an existing property, but if one wants to reference something specific, to invent something recognisably similar, but with a different name.

Hmph. Well, I figure that is probably the safest route to go. It's annoying, though, because it's like you're writing your characters into an AU from real life. (Maybe I could use "Second Sight" again, as long as I have a madeup TV show in hand....)
[User Picture]
From:yahtzee63
Date:July 1st, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
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I second the vote for the stand-alone. If you're showing the script to someone from the show -- well, by the time you do it, the mytharc is going to have galloped along somewhere else. If you're just showing the script to agents to prove what you can do, then you want something that people unfamiliar with the SPN mythology can still follow and appreciate.

A thought re: a fandom you could use for the YA novel might be Jane Austen; there are active fan sites, fanfic and meetups, but it's all public domain (and, as a bonus, well understood by those who aren't in fandom).
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
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If you're just showing the script to agents to prove what you can do, then you want something that people unfamiliar with the SPN mythology can still follow and appreciate.

Yeah, that's very true (and I expect this spec NOT to wind up with the show itself, but hey, if it does for some reason...!). I just need to write a good Sam&Dean horror story. New genre for me! I plan to have some fun with it.

A thought re: a fandom you could use for the YA novel might be Jane Austen

My first thought was, Austen wouldn't contribute anything to the themes I'm exploring...and my second thought was, well now, maybe she would! And now I'm looking at my antagonist in a whole different light. Interesting. The bonus of Austen's work being widely popular and well-known while still being in the public domain is a big one, too. Thank you for the excellent idea!

(p.s. your icon is from "In My Time of Dying," yes? Love it.)
[User Picture]
From:rose_in_shadow
Date:July 2nd, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
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I think Psych had an episode based around a fan convention... though I believe it was comic books specifically.

I'm not sure about copyright... I'm sure you could probably mention Star Trek, but like others have mentioned, you might have to make up your own names for thinly disguised substitutes. little_details might be of some help with specific copyright issues...
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
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You're right about Psych...I sort of yelled at the screen when that episode aired. "My idea! That's mine!" *g* But it's one episode of a comedic cable series, so I think I'm still good for a dramatic film.

*waves to Shawn in your icon*
[User Picture]
From:feliciakw
Date:July 2nd, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
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Ah, the ever-nebulous question of copyright. Yes, indeed, it could be incredibly tricky. I only know what I've heard through the grapevine, and it's all anecdotal, but I've heard that Paramount, for example, is ridiculously proprietary regarding the Star Trek franchise, but if JD is correct, Lucasfilm might be approachable. Your best bet to keep lawyers out of it would probably be to go the public domain fandom route.

I know that Geo's director friend is incredibly paranoid about copyright, to the point where he's twitchy that using something that's common knowledge or public domain that has been used in a copyrighted work might be subject to copyright. *eye roll* "No, Director Friend, stabbing a vampire in the heart with a stake is *not* a copyright issue."
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Your best bet to keep lawyers out of it would probably be to go the public domain fandom route.

Well, if I can find something that will work well (like the public domain/pop culture Jane Austen suggested by yahtzee63 above), I may have to go with that. *sigh*
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From:maevebran
Date:July 2nd, 2007 06:53 am (UTC)
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For the spec script I'd say go for the stand alone hunt. It would probably be much easier to explain in queery letters and fellowship applications. Rather than "This was written before this episode aired so . . . . " (I'm having the issue since the killed Beckett, Weir is in a coma and the blew up the Asgard my entire script has been Jossed beyond belief.)

I'd say develop the original material for the fandom don't rely on what has already been created by others.

These are just my opinions and are based on nothing but stuff I've been reading and mingling in my mind so I can't tell where I read what.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
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Good points about going for the standalone. I'm trying not to worry about being jossed in a similar way, if Sara Sidle turns out to be dead next season. My writer's group tells me that the death of a main character who's been with the show since day one isn't enough to invalidate the spec, but I'm not sure I believe them entirely. :-P

I'd say develop the original material for the fandom don't rely on what has already been created by others.

That would avoid copyright issues...but half the reason I'd want to make my YA characters geeks at all would be to provide them with a common language of theme and symbol. With an original fandom, I'd have to provide enough information about said fandom to explain those commonalities. (That's fairly easy in the murder mystery, because fen at a convention are pretty talkative, and my main character is something of a newbie.) *sigh* Ah, copyright, you make everything so complicated!
[User Picture]
From:feliciakw
Date:July 3rd, 2007 10:27 am (UTC)

SPOILER!!!!!!!

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I'm trying not to worry about being jossed in a similar way, if Sara Sidle turns out to be dead next season.

Do you really want to know? Should I post the answer here? Or have you already read? 'Cause I know what I read recently. I think you'll be . . . well, should I tell ya? Or is the Colby thing all the stress you can take right now?

[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)

Re: SPOILER!!!!!!!

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Well, last I heard, nobody was sure what was going on, and Jorja sure wasn't saying. Um. If you want to tell me where to look, that's fine....
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC)

Re: SPOILER!!!!!!!

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Well, I see that Ausellio thinks that Jorja may be getting close to re-signing (but I read that as blog-speak for "we really have no idea"); and that the producers have just talked about filming on location in San Francisco (Sara's hometown). Hmmmm.
[User Picture]
From:feliciakw
Date:July 3rd, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)

Re: SPOILER!!!!!!!

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Hm . . . the thing I read said that she had signed her contract. It seemed more clear-cut and definitive than Ausellio likes to tease, but maybe that was me reading into it.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)

Re: SPOILER!!!!!!!

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Where did you read? Now I want to know! :-)
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 2nd, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Looks like others have already said lots of useful things about the YA novel, so I won't bother putting in my two cents (since they would consist mostly of "umm...I dunno, Steven King does it..."). I'll just say that i would totally read that YA novel.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 2nd, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
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Would you? :-) Maybe you better learn more about the actual plot before you say that. It's a so-called YA "problem novel," and I'm not entirely sure it'll find a publisher in either the secular or Christian markets once I finish it. Yeah. It's that kind of book, or wants to be, anyway.

But the characters, they are geeks.
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 2nd, 2007 11:46 pm (UTC)
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But the characters, they are geeks, there is murder mystery and a geek convention and if you wrote it I'd be pretty confident that the Christian aspect didn't bludgeon me over the head. So I'd definitely read it.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
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Ah. I knew those two paragraphs were rather conflated, but I should have tried harder to distinguish the two ideas. You'll like my murder mystery screenplay muchly--it's quite fandom-focused, and everybody but the show's two stars are geeks.

The YA novel is a whole other beastie, though the protagonists are also geeks. There's no mystery (well, afaik, so far), and the Christian aspect is pretty strong (hence me thinking the secular publishers will go "ewww") and it deals with a topic that Christian publishers, um, rarely or never touch (homosexuality). So....
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:July 3rd, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
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Okay, yes. My reading comprehension is probably as much to blame as anything else.

I'd prolly read the YA novel, as well, but less because I'd be interested in the material than because you wrote it.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
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LOL. I guess that's a compliment!
[User Picture]
From:feliciakw
Date:July 3rd, 2007 10:31 am (UTC)
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and it deals with a topic that Christian publishers, um, rarely or never touch (homosexuality).

**blink, blink**

**curiosity is peaked**
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 3rd, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
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Hee.

Well, I've noticed an upswing in YA novels dealing with this topic (as opposed to other growing-up topics like drugs, illness, death, divorce, etc...). And none of the books I've seen have tackled this particular issue from the one angle I am familiar with: a person's relationship with God, and how this is issue is treated (or ignored) within the modern Christian community.

Not that I'm planning to preach. I'm much more interested in telling a friendship story--one complicated by this issue, because there lies drama and some truths about human existence in this messed-up world--but still that story. *points to icon*

(Not to mention that "straight best friend" is really the only pov on this issue I'm 'qualified' to give. *g*)
[User Picture]
From:tomh1138
Date:July 3rd, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
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I'll have to echo everyone else's comments about the standalone. I sent off my LOST spec to have someone read, and it did take place at a certain point in the continuity. I even spelled that out with a "Previously on LOST..." page before the script proper began.

And you know what happened? The reader ripped me to shreds for supposed "continuity errors," when in fact the reader had simply lost complete track of where the story happened in the timeline. Nonetheless, I still learned the lesson: I can't count on the reader to remember how the story fits into a much larger arc. For all intents and purposes, the story must be taking place NOW in the reader's mind.

As for the YA, may I suggest an alternate route? So far you've mentioned that you want to work with one fandom specifically, and that's why you're worried about the copyright. How about having your characters be multiple fans *within the same genre*? In other words, if you want to build this friendship on a love of Tolkien, have the friends become connected through a mutual love of fantasy in general. Then you can reference Tolkien and Lewis and Baum, and no one can cry foul because they're just references, not one thing upon which the whole story is hung.

Remember how often the residents of Sunnydale referenced different stuff. No copyright police came after them because the whole show wasn't built upon any one reference.

To use the Star Trek analogy, Paramount isn't going to come after you if your characters mention Spock and then also mention Yoda and E.T. But they might come after you if the whole thing is set on a starship and the captain likes to break a rule that's a thinly disguised version of the Prime Directive.

And bravo for writing something a little daring! Most of the things I dream up defy easy categorization (i.e., neither Christian nor secular publishers would go for it). But often those things are the things most worth writing.



[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:July 5th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
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OUCH to your story about reader-response to a LOST spec. That's why I'd be scared to death to write one for any serialized show. Bad enough with something like SPN, with its season-long character arcs and mythology, which can overshadow its fine standalone episodes.

How about having your characters be multiple fans *within the same genre*? In other words, if you want to build this friendship on a love of Tolkien, have the friends become connected through a mutual love of fantasy in general. Then you can reference Tolkien and Lewis and Baum, and no one can cry foul because they're just references, not one thing upon which the whole story is hung.

This is a good point. Let me tell you why I'm a little bit leery of it. The whole reason I'm letting them be geeks (and it doesn't have to be fantasy/scifi, or TV, or books...that's just what would require the least in crazy research from me) is that's what I know about...that's the way I, myself, shape or map my life and experiences. I find analogies and symbols in fiction, ways to explain my beliefs, my actions, my life philosophy.

In that sense, one book or show (or character) may provide a strongly defining force in one period of my life. I know this is true for some of my friends as well.

And that's what I'm looking for, for this YA novel: something I can latch onto (that my characters can latch onto) which will give me some structure for their early relationship, and some identification and symbols which I can play with towards the themes in the story.

I could make something up. But that would be 1) a lot of work, and 2) make me feel like I'm writing an AU from the real world. *sigh* I don't know.

Most of the things I dream up defy easy categorization (i.e., neither Christian nor secular publishers would go for it). But often those things are the things most worth writing.

Well, I most certainly hope so. :-) God only knows if this would be a good book, a helpful and interesting book. But if it can be, I'd like to write it.

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