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Talentville Bar & Grill : Television Writers' Lounge
Learning from the masters... maybe.

Paul Mailhot
Posted November 19, 2012 11:54 AM
I wanted to make another go at a television pilot. I figure the best way to do that would be to emulate a successful pilot screenplay. I was going to check out the pilot for 24, because it had a lot of suspense and was super successful. I chose not to just because it had this weird thing where episodes were done by the hour. I think. I never saw an episode, so I don't know.

I've heard a lot of good things about Breaking Bad, although I've never seen an episode of it, either. I figured I'd download it and take a look.

Oh Crap.

Let me tell you, it's a really good read. Really good opening teaser. Generates a LOT of questions for the reader/viewer. High energy and quirky. The problem is that there is no way anybody will let me write like that. It has a lot of style and charisma, yet I feel I am trapped into being more sedate and stale in my efforts.  Separate rules for the amateurs will keep us amateurs from becoming pro.

If you want to gander at the first 2 or 3 pages to see what I mean, this link my pull up the script for you.  Pilot, Breaking Bad.

Dawn Chapman
Posted November 19, 2012 12:03 PM
If you want to write and break all the rules do so, but be expected to get shot down over it on many peer review sites.

The choice is yours.

I haven't seen the pilot, but agree the opener alone is funny. :)


Ward Bower
Posted November 19, 2012 7:04 PM
this comes up a lot around here.

is this a spec script? a production script? something written after the treatment was sold? people read shooting scripts and think it's okay or even required to put in all the camera shots etc in their spec scripts.

spec scripts tend to need to follow the guidelines to get consideration in contests etc. remember, it isn't about spinning the fanciest prose like in novel writing.  it's about effective and efficient narrative getting the story out.

I didn't read the whole pilot, but as clever as it is, overwriting can get old fast to a reader. I've often found myself banging my head on the desk, wishing the screenwriter would just get on with the story rather than bogging me down with how clever he is with the constant similes and metaphors, tediously painting every corner of every scene.

Paul Mailhot
Posted November 20, 2012 2:34 AM
Nah, wasn't really talking about formatting rules. They tell the story TO the reader with charm and confidence, as though they are sitting beside the reader pointing at the story unfolding before them. I've always been under the impression I had to tell the story as though the reader were invisible.

Ward Bower
Posted November 20, 2012 8:24 AM
I get what you mean in the sense the Breaking Bad script read more conversationally, while a typical spec script's narrative often reads like a police report.

that said. conversation style reading leads to a lot of extra, and needless narrative that can wear thin after a few pages. I enjoy it when reading a book, not so much when I'm reading a script.

And all that said. I wouldn't toss or slam someone's script for using a little flair on occasion. The less you use it, the more effect it has when you do.

I read a script here where the author used a version of authorial intrusion throughout. drove me nuts.

Tim opens the ancient door.

Oh no! We know whats' going to happen next!