A Moment of Jen
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Monday, February 08, 2010
posted by Jen at 2/08/2010 07:32:00 PM

For those of you who've been riding the pilot roller-coaster with me. I finally got word from ABC on "Jane and Dick," the script I wrote, and the word was...not good.

This was heartbreaking, especially because now I'll never seen the headline "ABC Slips Weiner's 'Dick' Into Crammed Schedule," but ultimately, it wasn't surprising. This was a bad year to write a romantic relationship-centered show. It was an excellent year to pitch a gritty police procedural (if you like CSI, you're going to love next season's prime-time dramas!)

The good news is that we're now taking "Jane and Dick" to other networks. I've got a few other irons in the TV fire. And even if nothing happens, I learned a lot from the process.

Writing a novel is a long, lonely business. Basically, once you're a novelist and longer on your first book, you pitch an idea, maybe submit an outline, your agent and your editor give you the thumbs-up, and you go off by yourself, for a year or longer, to wrestle with the bear all by yourself.

TV is different. At every step -- the paragraph-long pitch, the story arena, the outline, the script, and the revisions upon revisions upon revisions that you make, first for the studio executives, then for the network -- you're talking to people, checking in, showing them what you've done and getting their feedback. Can you sharpen the conflict? Can you raise the stakes? Can you make the characters more vivid, more realistic, less broad? (it seems that I have a natural tendency to go to the broad place).

Sometimes the notes feel generic, like everyone writing everything is being told to sharpen the conflict and raise the stakes. But thinking about conflict, about character, about how to tell a story that's vivid and compelling and gets better with each subsequent draft isn't a bad thing, whether you're writing scripts for TV, or short stories or novels.

I think that the process made me a writer. I know that I got to meet and work with some amazing, hilarious people. I've got high hopes of someday, somewhere, seeing characters I've dreamed up on the small screen, and also of getting over my pique at the network in time for tonight's "Bachelor: On the Wings of Love."

And I've still got my day job.
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