Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gaming: The Slow Motion Death Scene

Today I was listening to The Weakerthans. The funny thing about music is that it can make you long for a life you don't want. For example, whilst listening to "One Great City!" and apartment hunting in Vancouver; all I could think about was flannel lumberjack coats, snow, basement suites and iced over ponds located five minutes from the one-bar town. I've NEVER wanted that life. As far back as I can remember, I've been a city girl. If I'd been allowed caffeine at age five, I would've asked for Starbucks cards instead of Barbies. Yet, here I was, dreaming about living in the small town that I couldn't get away from fast enough, with envy. Lust even. Maybe I'm just having an off day?

In other news, I tried InFamous for the first time. First let me say, I am aware, I'm behind. Second, I've never really blogged about gaming so let me lay down a few guidelines before I tap this land mine of possible comment abuse.

1. I am a girl.
2. I like to game.
3. We have a PS3. We have a Wii. We DO NOT have an X-Box 360. Anyone who wishes to regale me with the song of this so-called travesty is welcome to send me their used 360 which they've just replaced with a bigger HD and Kinect, OR send me a brand NEW 360 complete with Kinect, OR a shiny Best Buy gift card loaded with $335.98 (the price of a 360 with Kinect).
4. I play Bio Shock on "dummy" *ahem* "easy", to give you an idea of my skill level. That being said, I have an 80 priest in WoW (no, I'm not playing Cataclysm).

So, back to InFamous. Just like The Force unleashed, I rather ADORE wreaking havoc with electricity from my finger tips. It is possible that I've had more than several dreams about this very ability. The idea that I am the only person around with this ability is weighty, yet satisfying. I was a little miffed that the game auto-defaulted to inverted horizontal camera controls. Seriously? Was it Dyslexic Gamers Awareness Week when they programmed that? Maybe it's just me, but inverted controls drive me around the fracking bend.

Secondly, and I'm more embarrassed to say this than you are to read it... I am having a hard time without the auto-lock feature that Red Dead Redemption and BioShock have spoiled me with. I don't have a lot of spare time, so when I play a game I like to power through. Aiming just slows me right down. This unfortunate aversion to learning proper aiming tactics caused me to lose every game of 007 Golden Eye I ever played, and almost killed a beautiful gaming partnership (which no longer includes Golden Eye). It has not caused me to nut up and learn to aim. Perhaps InFamous will rock me out of my LazyBoy game play. Perhaps I'll quit if I can't get past this current hurdle (blogging to shake it off).

Third, is it really necessary to die in slow motion? I always consider this such a slap in the face. Lets just put it out there, dying sucks. It will never be glorifying, or exciting. It will always be the moment I feel absolute failure as a gamer, and possibly blow a tantrum due to the slight against my l33tness. There really REALLY is no reason to drag out this moment by programming the game to mock me in slow motion. In InFamous, every time you die, the screen turns black and white, and your character falls dramatically to the ground in whatever twisted, painful position seems the most suited to his demise. The fall itself seems to last eight seconds. In gamer time? FOREVER. I really wish that when I die in game, a quick fade to black will happen, maybe in easy mode big white letters spelling out DEAD, or even throw in a X_X to tip me off, then right back into the action. I get it. I failed. The milk has been spilled, but can we move on before it grows its own bacterial Dubai here? Game developers, I implore you, to avoid brain melting, controller damaging outbursts, please PLEASE avoid the slow-mo deaths.

That's all I've got at this point. For those of you who aren't gamers, I'll let you get back to Angry Birds (who am I kidding, I love that game). For those who are, I'm sure you've already had your daily judge-gasm over this post. Hope it was entertaining to say the least.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tips for Impressing Your Barkeep

Yes. Recovery is almost finished. Energy levels are still a bit wonky, but pretty much, I'm back at it.

Mostly that means serving an excess of company Christmas parties, and bartending for catered events. One thing that completely shocks me about these parties is people's lack of ability to be on time. You book a table for 40 people for 5:00 PM, and you don't show up until 5:45 PM, which puts you at the exact same time as the other party of 35. Then, you complain when your food takes a long time. I'm going just put this out there - the later you are, the more people order ahead of you. It's the physics of dining out.

That being said, I've had some very friendly guests lately, and not as many grinches as I expected (though I seem to fall into that category this Christmas). So many friendly ones, in fact, that I am making sure my wedding ring is in full sight at all times. I'm not sure what it is about female bartenders charging horrendous prices for rum and coke, but they're coming out of the woodwork. Perhaps its the fact that I'm generally the only girl in the room they HAVEN'T had to CC on a by-weekly email. Maybe it is just that I try to smile when mixing a caesar, and make conversation when I'm searching for your non-alcoholic beer (really?!). I'm told its a combination of something I'm unintentionally putting out there, and something that wish they were seeing. The funny thing is, there are so many many more head-turning women working there than me. I can only imagine what would happen if they were behind the bar!

Either way, I always feel like the jerk of the situation when I have to let someone down, and try to do it easy. Here, in the spirit of winter festivities are a couple tips for anyone planning to hit on their event bartenders. We see more than you'd think.

1. Festive ties are NOT sexy.

2. Telling me how lame your night is? Not sexy. My night is NEVER as good as I say it is but I can fake it. You're getting free food, and potentially company booze. Just, enjoy it.

3. Asking for a free shot is NOT sexy, you're not the first person to ask, and if we are caught, we will get fired.

4. Bringing mistletoe does not require me to come near you. Bartenders get a boat-load of loopholes most people don't know about. Please leave the holly at home.

5. If you are planning on coming anywhere close to asking your barkeep on a date, or even to the after-party / club / party-in-your-pants, you won't have a chance unless you tip for your drinks. Even the five free tickets you scammed off the underage receptionist. Savvy?

Good luck to all those who are on the prowl this season, and Happy Christmas to the rest of you. If anyone is volunteering to set up and take down my tree, there may be some Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake in it for you.

Time for this Grinch to polish her wine crank and get on with it!

**This post had NOTHING to do with writing - but that post is coming**

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What do you do when feel backwards?

I KNOW you know what I mean. The things you normally do aren't what you want. The food you want to eat doesn't hit your hunger G-spot. The books you want to read seem to blur into one page that you read 25 times. The things you write... well, they just aren't right.

I use other people's words. Poetry, specifically. Here is some more.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought...

..."And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

Excepts from "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll

What do YOU do, for backwards days?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Someone Else Always Says It Better.

Fate has written a tragedy; its name is "The Human Heart".
The Theatre is the House of Life, Woman the mummer's part;
The Devil enters the prompter's box and the play is ready to start.

--- from "The Harpy" by Robert Service

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Thrill Is Gone...and by Thrill, I Mean Groove.

I've been a little rocked lately. Spinning on a different axis.

I don't like it.

The littlest tasks, things that I'm passionate about in theory, take an unbelievable effort. The thing is, I'm not tired of this business. If anything, I'm desperate to jump in the deep end, but I can't climb the stairs to the diving board without getting out of breath.

Most of this is due to the one big elephant in the corner of my body. The elephant is scheduled to be transported to a new location as early as Tuesday next week, or as late as December 14th. Until the beasts removal, distance training is out of the question. I guess until then, I am running sprints. Hopefully each sprint takes me closer to the other side of this valley I've been dropped in, until I can see the other side.

Here are the sprints for this week.

1. Finish the read that is currently on my virtual desk and send off notes.
2. Sharpen ideas for Crazy 8s pitch and decide on front runners.
3. Connect with the two people I've been wanting to see, regarding something we ARE very excited about.
4. Decide who, out of the many MANY Movember candidates I know who are scruffing it up for a worthy cause, will receive my donation.
5. Eat Pho. Twice.

I suppose I could try to inject more analogies into this post, but I love my 18 followers, and am hoping for numbers 19 and 20 in the next week, so I'll play it safe. Until then, send me an encouraging sprint-worthy /CHEER, and then go visit me over at The Future Ex Waitress, and send me your script - I still have one spot left for a read with notes!

Time for Pho #1. Peace!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Shout Out

It's crisp outside. Leaves are crumpled and blowing down the street. One latent neighbour has managed to ignore the rotting jack-o-lantern on his or her stoop. There is no time quite like the time between fall and winter. The grey area when the ski hills aren't open just yet, but the television is reminding us every day that our credit cards are about to be maxed to capacity. What better time of year to listen to some sweet soulful jazz?

This Friday's shout out goes to Quintessential. A local jazz band that gigs around Vancouver, and has just come out with their third album "Coffee". They are a fantastic four piece, and they are available for bookings, and general merriment. Also, their bass player just happens to be my fabulous Father.

Take a listen to their albums HERE. If you like what you hear, you can order their albums online. They also have a Christmas album. It makes a great gift. If you know anyone who likes jazz or just general awesomeness, send them over to Quintessential they won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ruby Skye PI - Are YOU Caught Up?

Check out this delightful new web-series, courtesy of the immensely talented Jill Golick, Kerry Young, Karen Walton et al, along with some incredible sponsors. Get the whole story HERE, complete with activities and brownies! Or follow them on Twitter! Such a great series, with relevant messages, and exciting mysteries. Are YOU caught up? I sure am.


Two other things of note:

1. I still have two spots available to do a read for YOU! First come first serve. Head on over to The Future Ex-Waitress and comment, or email me at to reserve your spot.

2. I am FINALLY running another #DSLC (Double Shift Logline Challenge) tomorrow, so get your loglines prepped and ready, and follow me on Twitter for the submission call. Prizes TBA.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Things Weighing on This Wednesday

Gordon Campbell has stepped down.

No one is eating out in Vancouver.

I am still waiting on surgery.

These are three issues that are affecting my day. One less so than the others. I didn't vote for Gordon Campbell. I'm uncertain what the ramifications of him stepping down are, and if this will give the correct focus to the tax referendum or not. I hope that whoever steps up to the plate will be prepared for the bees nest that they are entering, and can find a way to make some honey for the province of BC. I don't know too much about Gordon Campbell, though I can't help but wonder if his reasons for stepping down are the same when he gives them at the dinner table instead of in front of the cameras.

No one is eating out. Despite the fact that winter is nipping at our heels and restaurants are usually beginning to feel the first pushes of the Christmas rush, NO ONE is eating out. Except people with coupons. They're coming in spades. Coupons are great for bringing in the business, but not so great when forty dollars is discounted off an otherwise profitable bill. I don't know whether the decline in patronage is fallout from the recession, delayed reaction to the HST spike, or renewed sense of frugal behavior in Canada, but it's definitely killing my Snowboard fund buzz.

I am extremely biased at this time, but I am currently VERY frustrated with the health care system in Canada. Don't get me wrong, I would take our free health care system over the majority of country's any day, and I am SO thankful that medical care is provided to all without debilitating costs, but I am currently stuck in the system's limbo, and it's killing me softly (without the song). I'm not sure I can bring myself to tell the sordid story to the interwebs, but I'm sure the two IV bruises that I'm currently sporting will be sufficient proof of my frustration for the time being.

While trying to hide from my physical pain, and garner some semblance of income to make up for all the days of work I've missed, I've created a new venture. I've decided to give it its own site for the time being, but if I find the dual sites too difficult to manage, I'll find a way to combine them. To check it out - go HERE.

Yet Another Venture

Expanding my online niche

The Future Ex-Waitress

Friday, September 17, 2010

Falling Off....

...the wagon? Yes. But only insofar as #DSLC is concerned.

I still owe my notes (which are being worked on) to @Tracinell

I still owe a video shout out to ...someone. Whom I haven't announced yet.

I have three excuses. One, you don't want to hear. Two, I am in the job changing process. Running back and forth between the old (where I train) and the new (where I am BEING trained) has exhausted me. Three, the dog ate my homework. We don't have a dog.

Anyway, the new job may or may not be the end to my double shifts. If it works out that way, I will find a new way to DSLC. Stay posted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's Getting Kagey In Here!

Congratulations to Thursday's #DSLC winner Kim Garland! Get ready to be cordially introduced:

Kim Garland is a freelance writer from Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. She works in literary acquisitions and development for Braven Films and spends her downtime fighting, cursing and crying her way through her first feature-length script. It’s a comedy.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University’s Writing Program and after college worked in book publishing for Houghton Mifflin and Random House. She gave up Publishing’s coveted expense accounts and “summer hours” for the glamour of a dotcom startup. Yes, that was dumb, but since it ultimately led to following her heart and pursuing her longtime dream of working in the film industry, it turned out okay in the end. Let’s hope that comedy screenplay follows suit.

Kim would like to thank the fine folks of #scriptchat for her glorious win of #DSLC, though she’s not yet convinced she wasn’t the only one who submitted this week (she wasn't) and therefore won by default (she didn't).

You can follow Kim on twitter @KageyNYC and find her lurking in Sunday night's #Scriptchat. Look for her name in lights in the very near future.

The next #DSLC will run tomorrow (that's Thursday). You will have from 8AM until 8PM pst to submit your best logline to in order to win tomorrow's prize, which is still percolating in my head.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Day, Another #DSLC

Congrats to the winners of the Double Shift Logline Challenges (#DSLC) for this week.

Tuesday's winner: @tracinell has won a free read/notes from me.
Thursday's winner: @robertcarroll has won a free read/notes from benefactor @zacsanford.

Here were some of the submissions I've received this week (Posted with permission, of course). Mine are hiding in there also. I will update this post with more of the submissions once I've received permission from their authors.

Elegantly Wasted – Four high school graduates decide to spend the summer before college partying in England, but when they get paired up with a Royal family, they're forced to try live the summer of a lifetime without destroying centuries of family tradition.

Rules of a Successful Bachelor - Tristan's a womanizer, that secretly runs a pickup website and falls for the one woman that knows all his tricks... his competition.

Dreaming of Me - Roles are comically reversed when a hunky celebrity stalks the nameless girl in his nightly, romantic dreams to convince her they are soul mates.

Drive Through Justice - A middle school student convinces his dis-barred lawyer uncle to help him sue a local fast food chain after his father dies of a heart attack while eating their food.

After being separated by a riot in the streets of Tokyo, a young couple embarks on wild one-night quest to reunite with one another.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Double Shift Logline Challenge - Thursday

The loglines from Thursday's #DSLC (posted with permission):

High Speed –Two stoner college students discover they can travel the world by transferring themselves via a high-speed internet router made with a bong and an 8-track player

A news photographer captures the shot of a lifetime, but is forced to decide between love and fortune when the scandalous nature of her photograph turns out on closer inspection to be her new boyfriend caught during the commission of a serious crime. A comedy

MITTENS: A lonely high school prodigy befriends the CIA’s latest in spy technology, a talking robotic cat, and together they must destroy the master plan of a global crime syndicate

When Jake clicked "next blog" on the blogger web site, he had no idea that next blog would cause him to fall in love.

A newlywed couple is stuck living their honeymoon over and over again and, as the years pass on this endless vacation, they uncover whether they are truly meant to be together ‘til death do them part

A struggling artist sketches series of anti-corporate portraits centering on his father's investment business and finds himself pulled into a world of corporate intrigue when his sketches uncover an ugly truth.

A 50-year-old spinster accidentally becomes the leader of a biker gang and destroys America's roughest biker town in ENID BURGESS TAKES DOWN STURGIS


Thank you to @eyamie, @KageyNYC, @RobertCarroll, @ZacSanford, @Yeah_Write, @ZaniacMedic, and @NoPantsIsland for playing along with my silly game (Mine is included in there as well).

Congrats again to @Eyamie who pulled out the win with a short, succinct, humorous logline including a great title, winning a copy of Quintessential's CD.


Next week's #DSLC will take place on Tuesday, and Thursday (according to my current schedule) On those days, send your logline to before 6PM PST to be considered. I'll think of a new exciting prize to accompany the winner's #FF.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inception, Loglines, and Follow Fridays

This is a buffet post, more than one item on the menu. First and foremost - INCEPTION! We saw it last night and needless to say I was not disappointed. Wow. Here is my #HaikuMovieReview


Complex and driven
Intricately beautiful
Intense story art

Walking out of a movie that intentionally expects an intelligent viewer, entertains, and inspires is so refreshing. I am going again.


Now I want to talk about the DSLC. I am giving myself a new challenge to go along with the intense hours that I'm working. I'm also inviting you to play along! Thus begins the "Double Shift Logline Challenge" (DSLC). Everytime I work a double shift - I have a possible 3 in a row next week - I am challenging myself to write a logline on my break, and challenging you to write one as well! Submit them to me via DM on Twitter or email them to me. Every time I get more than five on a given day, I will choose a winner, give them a #FollowFriday on Twitter, and post their logline on my blog, if they so choose.

We had a blast with it on Thursday. Its the best way I can think of to keep myself being creative on a short timeline. I've decided to embrace the crazy hours, and to force myself to keep my head in the writing game, even on my longest days. Watch for the hashtags on Twitter under #QuickWriting and #DSLC. Looking forward to playing!


I owe a Follow Friday to @robertcarroll and @zaniacmedic for their participation in the DSLC on Thursday - Thanks for playing along! A couple other people you should check out on Twitter:

The Scriptchat Treefort Crew (Sunday night work has limited my involvement - but these guys are awesome!)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Few Things You Should Know About Me

These past few weeks have been ones of self discovery. Not so much in the vision quest and mushroom granola sort of way. More in the sense that I've pushed myself to the very limits of sanity and I now understand how I deal, sort of way. We've had a bit of a staffing crunch at work, so I've been logging some killer hours the last few months. Lets put it this way, my paycheck is almost double its original size, based on hours alone (the one pleasant side effect). When I work this much a few things suffer. In no particular order they include: Writing, cleaning the bio-hazard that is my house, cooking, spending time with important people, sleeping, and social networking of any kind including blogging. Fortunately I have a supportive husband who has worked very hard to pick up on my failings, and remember my name, even though I am almost never home. I've learned a lot about how I deal with stress, and where my breaking points lie.

Since I've been self discovering all over the place, I thought I'd give you the heads up on a few things you should know about me, if you want to continue down that rabbit hole of crazysauce that is knowing me. So, Alice, here they are:

1: If you invite me to a group or individual event, and use the term WE, I will assume you also mean for me to invite Derek, unless you make it very clear that this is a girls night, work event, or closed function, at which point I will decide whether or not I want to go. My "WE" includes him. That will never change.

2: I will assume that if words come out of your mouth, you mean them, unless you have proven that you often say things that are not true. For example "Did you hear about the giant fire that actually hopped false creek from Kitsilano to the Downtown core?" will be met with horror and shock, unless last week you told me you missed writers group due to a grizzly bear mauling but your scars healed miraculously. You call this gullible, I call it trusting. Pot-ay-toh, Pot-ah-toh. It's who I am.

3. If I am aware that you are trying to manipulate me, I will do EVERYTHING IN MY POWER to avoid giving you what you want, and likely call you out on exactly what you're doing. People who are master manipulators are seldom called out on their talents. I have a secret-ninja-mission to expose them, if only to themselves. Manipulation is a slippery slope you don't even realize you're sliding down most of the time.

4. It takes me a long time to really trust someone, but once you've earned it - you're golden.

5. I rage. A lot. It just boils up inside and I can't hold it in. I can keep my poker face on just long enough to make it to a safe space, and then Mount St. Helen's spews out of my mouth, occasionally burning those standing closest. Those who know me well have learned to pull out their face shields in the nick of time and laugh as I vent my frustrations.

I think that's enough for today. Any of you who are still left hanging around, I commend you for being brave enough. Good luck.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Ultimate Follow Friday List

Friend, and fellow Twitter and Twizzler addict Jeanne Veillette Bowerman has created the ultimate list of writing and film types to expand your Twitter community. Check out her ultimate #FollowFriday list here, and feel the love!

Also, say hi to @JeanneVB on Twitter, and tell her she's pretty rad!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Three Ring Big Top Status

Hello, Dave.

It's been a helluva week. I've done things for a steak and an early end to a shift that I wouldn't recommend to the guy who packs the sausage into the synthetic casing. All on the level, of course. Today was my first official day off in too many, and you know what I learned? I've still got a LOT to do.

Derek and I are SO close to finally putting the feather in the cap of the second draft of our pilot. What this means? We have no idea. We have a couple places that it will be sent for constructive feedback (shredder? anyone?) and then... we the great unknown. We have a vague idea of the plan. I have another spec that I'm working on - mental writing FTW - and we are working on going on vacation.

It isn't going to stop here. Working (the day job) as much as I have been lately has opened several doors for us, one of them hopefully being the door to a plane and an all inclusive resort. It has also threatened to close a few windows. My blogging has been in complete decline. Oh stop it, I know you didn't even notice. My twittering is now coming in fits and starts. Don't believe me? Check out every Monday when I'm off and have Twitterhea, as compared to a Friday, when I'm busy balancing a full tray of hot water and lemon, and my sanity, on one arm.

Balance is a tough game to play, and I'm still learning the rules. It enters into every aspect of my life. Balance between sleeping and running. Balance between work, the other work, and play. Balance between spending and throwing my tips into the black hole of student debt. Balance between our friends and our alone time. I wonder if all of the tripping I've been doing lately is actually a physical manifestation of my mental state? Or maybe I should just lay off the roller coasters and tequila shots.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Six Rules for Dining Out on a Holiday

I am heading out soon to work a double shift, on a statutory holiday. This is part of my quest to become a *Real* writer, indirectly at least. If writing and film making were not important to me, I suppose I would find a real job to pay the bills.

Anyway, since I am going to walk through the firey depths of holiday hell today, I thought I would provide a small list of rules for dining out on a statutory holiday. Most of these apply to every day dining, but they are of even more importance on a holiday when kitchens are busier, managers are frazzled, and a server makes half the amount of tips for double the work. I have been in the biz long enough that I have absolutely no hope of these being followed, but hey, I like a pointless exercise as much as the next person. So here we go.


1. DON'T.

(Now I KNOW you're not going to follow this one, but I will give my reasons and then move on.)

Everyone goes out on holidays. I know, all the cool kids are doing it, but for you it means that your food will be rushed, possibly cold, and definitely of lesser quality since the restaurant is likely over capacity. Its more likely that you will get a server who doesn't know what they are doing, since restaurants are always understaffed, and generally days off on holidays are given to servers with seniority (they are the ones with mad skills). There's more chance the restaurant will be overcrowded, over heated, and that they will run of the one item you came for. People go out on a holiday expecting something special. If by special you mean lukewarm food and sub-par service, you won't be disappointed.

2. Make a Reservation

This can be tricky since some places don't reserve tables on holidays, but please look for a place that does. Especially if you have a large group. Large constitutes anything six and over (sometimes five counts). If you haven't made a reservation, you can expect to wait. For a long time. Don't take your rage at not planning ahead out on the sixteen year old hostess who can barely walk in her three inch heels - she doesn't have the pull to fix your problem. Next time plan ahead. If you simply cannot wait, there is a Fatburger across the street.

3. Order off the Menu

There is NOTHING worse than serving a table who wants to custom build their entrees. We have a menu for a reason. They are dishes that have been practiced and perfected by the back of house staff, with ingredients that we ensure are of a certain quality. I'm not talking about a "No tomatos" modification here, I'm talking about the people who come in and ask for green eggs and ham (yes, true story), or request that we whip up some pancakes for them when we only serve french toast, and then proceed to get angry when we cannot meet their requests. Also, if you have more allergies than should be humanly possible, please call ahead to pre-arrange a dish that is suitable for your needs, instead of causing a back log with eight-thousand ingredient questions, while the chef racks his brain for something to serve you that is free of gluten, shellfish, peanuts, eggs, milk, nutmeg, and general flavour of any kind. We do have plenty of cardboard boxes, which are lovely with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

4. Make a list

When you require something extra from your server, politely inquire as to who else at your table may need that item, or something else. Your server should also do this, and when they do - LISTEN! You are NEVER your server's only table, unless you are the first to arrive or the last to leave (which is a whole different story). When you ask for more cream and the server brings it, then Betty asks for more sweetener, when that arrives just as Uncle Oscar remembers he would enjoy a cranberry juice, which is brought when little Suzie wants extra ketchup, etc. etc., You have just used up seven minutes of your server's time. Seven minutes is like half an hour in server time. Have you ever sat at a table for seven minutes without being greeted? Yeah, YOU just caused that. If you don't make a list of your needs, you can expect to wait a while to receive your items while your server follows their list of other priorities.

5. Control your children.

Servers, as a rule, HATE serving kids. Their entrees cost less, they make a big mess, they're loud, and they disturb other guests nearby. I've served some wonderfully well behaved children who have been polite and caused no problems. This was back in the summer of '07 when the sky was blue get my point. Well behaved children are almost an urban myth in a restaurant. There are a few things you can do to minimize the frustration. If your kids are young, be prepared with their order. Don't make your server stand there while you ask "Jason, what do you want?....Jason, mommy is asking you a question....Jason, grilled cheese or chicken fingers?...Jason, I'm going to count to three". I guarantee your server has thought of seventeen ways to kill themselves by now. Don't let your kids run around the restaurant. This is for their own safety. Servers walk FAST and carry HEAVY trays with HOT items. If you let little Emily run around willy nilly, you are almost guaranteeing a hot-coffee-to-the-face incident. None of us want that, despite the looks you may be receiving from other guests. If your child is misbehaving, take them outside. I understand the tactic of ignoring a tantrum, but you are asking everyone within a five table radius to attempt to ignore it as well. Take the child outside, or to the bathroom, and ignore the tantrum there. PLEASE.

And you knew it was coming....

6. Tip Generously

Servers may be getting paid time and a half today (depending on their location and their establishments rules) but even that adds up to a wage that barely rivals what you made your first year of McDonald's management. I've heard all the arguments against tipping. Restaurant owners should pay them more. They won't. They don't work that hard. They do. A monkey could do this job. A normal monkey, perhaps, but if he was restricted to your intellect, definitely not. Why should I have to pay more than my bill? Because, like it or not, tipping is a societal construct of the country in which you live (I'm speaking to YOU North American residents) and you've bought into that construct by continuing to patronize tipping-as-wage-supplement based establishments. If you can't get on board, don't go out. If you can't afford to tip 15-20% eat at a fast food joint, order in, or HEAVEN FORBID, cook at home. Be fair when factoring bad service into a tip. I know when I've screwed up and deserve a bad tip, and I accept my fate. Don't make me pay for the fact that you thought the music was too loud, or we didn't have lasagna on the menu - I can't control those things. I pay my rent based on my tips, and yes, I know I chose this job - but if I didn't, who would serve you prime rib and pour your wine and compliment your toupee?

Think about it. For Me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wishful Thinking

Pretty sure I'd be a better writer if I spent a week or two under a palm tree. My budget is currently $5.49 and rising. Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vanity NOT Fair, Only $5.95 per Slam

I'm sure you're all sick of this topic, but this is MY blog and I'm going to rehash it if I feel so inclined. So peanut gallery, the comment section is all yours.

A while back, Vanity Fair wrote THIS article featuring several powerful and important women, all with an impressive Twitter and Social Media presence which Vanity Fair failed to fully recognize and understand. I wrote THIS letter to the editor in response, trying to form a valid viewpoint outlining some of their oversights in a format that the established media would understand, thinking I'd be lucky if it even got read by anyone other than the spam guard.

About a month later, Vanity Fair contacted me and asked for my permission to publish my letter. Ever the optimist, I immediately agreed. Who could resist the chance to see their name in LIGHTS *cough* print for the first time. In Vanity Fair, no less. Presenting an opposing viewpoint and getting showcased for it!

Boy, was I naive...but we will get to that.

Being the eager (giant inflatable) beaver that I am, I decided to take it a step further. I emailed Vanity Fair back and asked their permission to write a follow up piece about Social Media. While I was waiting for their response I began researching, getting in contact with some Social Media Moguls, who were all very accommodating, and began to make notes about what would clearly be my grand entry into the club of those with their own byline. Even if Vanity Fair didn't want it, I figured I could use the publication of the letter as leverage to get my follow up article published elsewhere - can you see the stars in my eyes getting brighter? Rose coloured glasses FTW!

Yesterday, the April issue of Vanity Fair came out. I was at the post office between shift one and shift two, running some errands on my break. Fridays are my longest days, so I was pleased to see the issue of Vanity Fair on news stands, something exciting to get me through an inevitably busy night. When they contacted me, VF was sure to inform me that my letter could be edited due to space, or cut altogether depending on the size of the rest of the ads *ahem* articles that were promised their due. In newbie writer speak this meant "It might not all be in there, but glory in some way shape or form is inevitable." To be clear, I was prepared for the fact that the whole "letters" section may be cut, which would be disappointing, but manageable.

THIS is what they printed.

Photo Link

Incase that link doesn't work, here's a transcript:

' "It is with stark disappointment that I compose this letter to address an issue on which you've no doubt already received a vast amount-" A hundred thirty-eight, A hundred thirty-nine, A hundred-forty- Sorry, that's all the room we have, Rachel Langer of Vancouver, British Columbia. Talk about burying the lead!'

So, yep. I guess they still don't think too highly of Twitter, me, or my letter. Instead of just not publishing it, they decided to make a joke of my attempt to communicate with them on their level, restricting me to the 140 characters entitled to a normal "tweet". Thanks Vanity Fair, you stay classy.

I would have been OK with not being published at all due to space, or even having my letter summarily dismissed upon its receipt. But the fact that they chose to make a snide joke, after misrepresenting their intentions and then not even explain the joke to their readers just makes it feel so personal. I guess its my turn to learn a little bit about "the biz". Its not personal, its just business...until you speak your mind.

My thoughts for a follow up article died, and I went back to work to serve people prime rib and double vodka waters. Fortunately I received a ton of twitter-love and support, as well as a very special cheesecake with a message about Vanity Fair that is not fit for print. And, of course, Derek was there through the whole thing, maintaining that it's pretty cool to be able to say that a National Magazine took a shot at me IN PRINT when really, they could have just completely ignored me. When I really think about it, he's right, but my ego still smarts a little bit.

**To be fair, they did post one dissenting viewpoint to their Tweetheart's article in the issue from a reader in Munich, Germany**

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Waiter Rant (Not mine this time!)

So I write a blog...about writing.

I try to make it interesting, and honest, but there are times that I have absolutely nothing to say. More often than not, this is because I'm hiding from whatever draft I'm currently working on and to embarrassed to admit that to all y'all. There are other times that I want to wax poetic about the feel of the ocean air as I walk along the seawall, and other times I am ready to let loose about the customer who ordered a "side of Rachel" for dessert. To an extent, I have done this, but most of the time I am worried that I'm digressing from the topic I'm *supposed* to be writing about.

Today I got the chance to speak on the phone with Steve Dublanica, author of one of my favourite books The Waiter Rant, and operator of this popular blog. Steve, like myself, spent a long time waiting tables, whilst on a quest to figure out what he really wanted, and realize his gift as a writer. He succeeded, and is now working on his second book. I contacted Steve because I had a few questions about how serving had affected his writing, and how he dealt with his critics and fans, respectively. He was kind enough to spend some time encouraging me. With a wide range of life experience including time spent in seminary, working in a psychiatric hospital, and making the rounds as a waiter, Steve encouraged me not to discount a wider topical range on the blog, and, if the inspiration hits, to discuss my observations and experiences with the world and people around me.

I have a feeling that I will continue to struggle with the decisions I make about what I post, how often, and whether this is a niche blog about writing and the chance to break in, or whether its OK to talk about my shoes and how to make a meatloaf from scratch (yes, I DO know.) I guess that's OK, because it is the struggle that teaches me what I want the outcome to be. Either way, I was happy to leech off the experience and life lessons of someone I respect.

It was refreshing to hear some down to earth advice from someone who knows both sides of the fence and isn't afraid to write it all. For some reason, it doesn't matter how often I hear it, I am encouraged when someone tells me how their journey to literary success involved hard work and dedication, and was littered with difficult moments as well as rewarding ones.

Thanks for the encouragement, Steve!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I am buffing up my writing playlist. I have gotten some great suggestions via Facebook and Twitter so far. Please feel free to add to the list. Here is what I've received so far (don't be afraid to be song specific):

Basia Bulat
Kathleen Edwards
Hawksley Workman
The Weepies
Mimicking Birds
Mumford and Sons
Rogue Wave
The Morning Benders
Dan Black
Jeff Buckley
The Great Lake Swimmers
A Fine Frenzy
Racheal Yamagata
Fleet Foxes
The Faunts
Passion Pit
One Eskimo
Emm Gryner
Justin Nozuka
Dahmnait Doyle
Alexi Murdoch
Soul Coughing
Future Sound of London's Lifeforms

That's a long list, but I need MORE! Music domination must be achieved. Also, we can avoid any artists with $ in their names. Thanks in advance!

Monday, March 1, 2010

How the Olympics Won Me Over

Anyone who spent time with me in January was aware that I was not the biggest supporter of the Olympics coming to Vancouver. I did not support the city's decision to place the bid, and I was a vocal dissenter right up to the night of the ceremonies. Let's just be clear, I didn't don any masks or smash any windows mostly because I am not one for the active protesting, but I did my fair share of grumbling. I grumbled about the disruption to my transit schedules. I grumbled about the money that was being spent. I grumbled about the temporary solutions for the downtown east side. I grumbled about the lack of tipping prowess that would be sure to reign in at work. Yet despite all my grumbling, the games began. I missed the opening ceremonies because I was working. I missed the first few events because I was sick. I was adamant that I wouldn't be caught anywhere NEAR downtown Vancouver for two weeks.

Then, Jenn Heil won silver, and I watched her stand on the podium.

When I finally had a few days off (Valentine's weekend is a complete time suck for severs) Derek suggested we go downtown and take a look at the cauldron. I was skeptical but he convinced me that it would be wasteful to pass up the chance to experience Vancouver like we would never see it again. "How will it feel to tell people you didn't even go look?" was the sentiment. He was right, and I convinced myself that as a writer I couldn't pass up the chance to see it all. So we made a quick stop at Zellers to grab some "I Believe" mittens (I couldn't run the risk of being evicted from the downtown core for my lack of patriotism) and I ended up with a toque as well (couldn't have my ears getting cold as I was recovering from being under the weather). We hopped on the skytrain and got off at Waterfront. Immediately I realized the magnitude of this event, for good or for bad. We asked a volunteer in bright blue where we could find the cauldron and proceeded to walk.

Then, I saw the flame.

Something inside me that had been SO resistant to the whole idea of the Olympics lifted off my shoulders, and I was immediately caught up in it all. It is difficult to stay off the bandwagon when everyone who has hopped on is sharing free hot chocolate and warming each other under their giant Canada flags. I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but as soon as we reached the cauldron, I couldn't shake the fact that I was SO glad they had come to our city, and I was now standing in the middle of the West Coast's biggest party. Everything was different. Derek and I were crowded around a 2010 sign, trying to take pictures when a woman walked up and offered to take one for us. We handed her our expensive iPhones wihtout even the idea of mistrust entering our minds. She took our pictures, and we took hers. We reveled in the privilege of hosting the world with her. In those moments, I was reborn, like a Phoenix out of the ashes of the malfunctioning Olympic flame.

Then, hockey began.

My excitement was threefold. Not only was great hockey going on, but my team was being broadcast on a local channel AND they were the favourite to win! (Can you tell I'm an Oiler's fan in Real Life?) I served through several games, and watched all the others, but no matter where I was, I was involved. I could feel the weight of that gold medal, hanging in the balance. It was magic. I watched Tessa and Scott skate their medal winning skates! I watched Joannie Rochette triumph in honour of her mother. I watched both the men and the women sweep for Gold in hockey.

I walked the streets of Robson square, witnessed the protesters, the zipline, the line ups, the love, and through it all I was converted. I spent way more money than I should have on experiencing the city, and I barely wrote a word for three weeks, but I am not sorry. I've been called a band wagon jumper, a hypocrite, and a few other choice phrases, but I can say with confidence that I am SO glad the Olympics came to Vancouver and I'm even happier that I lived here to see it. I'm ready for my "I survived Vancouver 2010" badge now. I DO believe.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Other Side of the Fence. Sweet Rejection.

I know I've left everyone hanging regarding Crazy8's. That's why you should all follow me on Twitter. Alas, despite what felt like a great pitch we came to a halt in this year's Crazy journey. We pitched well, and had a fun and professional leave-behind, but I got the sense that there was less excitement over the subject matter of our story than we had hoped. I could be off base in that assumption, but I wasn't altogether surprised when the news filtered down that we hadn't made the cut.

The Happy:

It was a great opportunity to get out there and pitch, to prepare a package and sell ourselves as filmmakers, writers, and creators. All pitch experience is a HUGE benefit right now, as we continue working on our show and looking towards the future of our careers. It's great to put some names to faces in terms of the Vancouver scene. Meeting local producers, writers, and introducing ourselves is the backbone of a career in the biz.

The Not-So-Happy:

Being told "No" just plain sucks. No matter the reason, no matter the good things you had going for you, hearing that you weren't quite good enough is one of the most difficult things to stomach. It can be a serious motivation killer. I am a delicate lotus, and must become accustomed to the harsh winds of rejection. That's the biz.

I have decided, however, that we are too far gone in our love affair with this industry to lose momentum over something as small as a "No". We seriously improved over last year by making the first cut with our video pitch. We had way more confidence in our in person pitch than we did last year. We really upped the anti, and showed our dedication to learning an improving. The further away from it I get, the more perspective I have, and the less No-So-Happy there is. I'm sure "No" is a word I will hear many times in the future (this is not an invitation) so a little preparation is a good thing. The yesses will be that much sweeter. So no stopping, no stalling, we've "surfed the comedown" as a friend so eloquently put it, and we're riding a new wave now.

This is me telling you, I'm all in.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Still In the Game // Crazy 8's Update

We woke up yesterday to a charming email that started with the word CONGRATULATIONS. To our surprise and delight we had not won the fortune of a third-world widow if we would only send our postage fee of $20.99 to an Amsterdam address, or a seven night stay in if only we would consent to a month of timeshare selling meetings. We had, however, earned ourselves a spot in the next round of pitches for Crazy8s. This means that we have five days to perfect our in-person pitch.

I am currently waiting for a phone call that will allow me to schedule our pitch time. Most of the pitches will take place on Friday, however, since we will both be at work we are banking on getting one of the limited Saturday spots, for people such as ourselves who are required to pay bills and other such nonsense.

This is great news! It means that our video pitch succeeded in placing us in the top 40% of those who pitched. By how much, we may never know. Now the sweating, agonizing, and nausea that accompanies public speaking and in-person pitching can commence. Whining and nerves aside, we are ecstatic to have made it to this point. We will keep you posted with further developments. Pleas for luck wishing, finger-crossing, praying to the moon-gods of Jupiter, et al are continuously requested. Thanks for the support!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just Ask

Since the dawn of time mankind has been...OK I'm kidding! Wait don't click away!

Many things have happened since our return from Christmas. Some exciting - sending in our pitch for Crazy 8s, getting a note of positive feedback on my half finished pilot. Some less exciting - waiting to hear back from Crazy 8s, still not completing my half finished pilot, putting an indecent amount of work into the day job. My mantra over these last couple weeks has been "It doesn't hurt to ask".

This may not be true in all situations. It probably would hurt to ask that Hell's Angel if you can take his girl to dinner. It would probably also hurt to ask your girlfriend/wife/friend with benefits if she's been doing some stress eating (yes) or the cop if you can try out his gun. I've heard handcuff aren't particularly comfortable, I wouldn't know anything about that! ;-). What I'm saying is that within reason, and in most situations, it doesn't hurt to ask.

I wouldn't be sitting where I'm sitting on this precarious and exciting ledge if I was afraid to ask for things. A query letter here, an offer to do some free work there. A quick email about pushing back a deadline, or a schedule change. I'm not a firm believer in "Ask and ye shall receive" (at least not strictly in a worldly sense) however I believe in "don't ask and ye shall never know". If the answer is NO, then it is NO and you can carry on. Wouldn't you rather know for sure?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Waiting Game

As I type, we are uploading our very first video pitch for a short film competition called Crazy 8's. We entered this competition last year and pitched in person, and though we didn't make it through we got some great experience pitching and connected with some great people. We feel confident that we've put together the best pitch we could with the time constraints involved (we returned home from the prairie-hood on January 2nd at 10:30PM and the pitch is due tomorrow - January 15th at 5:00PM.) We are now entering the waiting zone.

I know a lot of people who say "I stop worrying about it the minute it is out of my hands." I am NOT one of those people. So, rest assured my mind will be filled with my projected ideas of what the judges may or may not be thinking for the next ten days. I will also be thinking of things we could have, should have, would have added, had we only the time or inspiration to do so. Sometimes my family tosses around the phrase "hurry up and wait." I'm sure whoever coined that little treat meant well, but every time I hear it my eye twitches slightly. Patience and I are frenemies.

So if you're thinking of us over the next week, take a moment to cross some fingers, find a piece of wood to knock on (challenging if you're at Ikea, but fiberboard will do), say a prayer if that's your style, perhaps if Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and a pagan god or two all band together they can instill some patience into me (highly unlikely). If we make it to the next round, you'll be sure to hear about it. If we don't, well, there are plenty more hurdles to jump and I'll sit on the sidelines and eat my chocolate cake and watch you point them out to me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vanity Fair "America's Tweethearts" - Oh Dear

Yesterday, Vanity Fair published this article discussing the success of several female icons of the Twitterverse, including one of my personal role models Felicia Day. Unfortunately the light that the article portrayed these women in showed a distinct lack of understanding of the world in which us social media fiends live. Read the article HERE. What follows is my letter to the editor, sent this morning. I hope spellcheck didn't fail me on this one.

Dear Editor,

It is with stark disappointment that I compose this letter today, to address an issue on which you’ve no doubt already received a vast amount of feedback. I am writing to address to tone and assumptions made in the article “America’s Tweethearts”.

The women depicted in this article are successful, brilliant and extraordinarily dedicated. Their fastidious attention to their admirers, as well as their devotion to their careers has created a cohesive set of skills which has set them above so many who explore only traditional marketing and media outlets. The light in which they were presented in this article implies a severe lack of research and understanding of what it is these women truly do. It is also a wide misrepresentation of whom they are, as a collective, pawning off misspelled, uninteresting, text-like tweets onto them. This is not what these women do, nor whom they are.

These women are moguls. To those of us who have seen our stars rise beyond the throes of the old media regime, they are a beacon of hope, pointing out a new path to success, and not solely online. For anyone who desires to pen the words spoken by the Oscar nominated performer, or design the building that the runway show takes place in, these women offer an alternative method of marketing, which is quickly going to become the norm. They are a breath of fresh ocean air, ushering in the salty breeze of change from what has been to what will become, and for that we should commend them.

It is unfortunate that this article (incidentally written by a woman) tears down five driven, intelligent women, with such disregard for what it is they have achieved, and those who can open their minds enough to respect them. It is even more unfortunate that in the very same issue, five actresses are built up in a much more favourable light. This fact alone suggests an unforgivable lack of understanding into the world of social media, and the achievements of those who are brave enough to navigate a new territory.

It would be lovely to see an addendum published, showing further insight into the world that these women navigate, and a retraction to the mildly snarky tone that bleeds throughout this article. These women deserve our respect; it is likely that your readers will demand nothing less from the Vanity Fair establishment.

Thank you for your time and attention to this letter.

Yours very truly,
Rachel Langer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Follow Up on Spec'ing

**Thanks to my friend Peter who posted an awesome response to my questions about spec'ing a series. With his permission, I'm going to re-post his response for anyone who may have similar interests or questions.**

From Typing Faster:

Rachel, a friend of mine, has a post up asking some good questions about writing a spec episode of an existing series. I started to post some answers in the comments section, but it was getting long and unwieldly, so I figured I’d move it all over here and expand on them a bit.

All suggestions are rules of thumb. There are always exceptions. Your mileage may vary.

So, without further ado, here we go!

1. How old is too old? I realize the show needs to be on the air, but is there a limit to what season it should be in? If its running into a fifth or sixth is it nearing an expiry date?

The sad fact is that specs have a shelf life. Once a show goes off the air, specs of that show are essentially dead. Showbiz doesn’t like to look back at the past, it’s always looking for the “next big thing.”

Spec’ing a show that’s coming towards the end of its run has some drawbacks.

* The older a show, the more specs of it floating around.
* The older a show, the less new and shiny it looks. The less buzz it has.
* The older a show, the more likely it is to end its run, go off the air, and be useless as a spec.

So, basically it comes down to two rules of thumb:

* Don’t spec a show in its first year. A pickup is never guaranteed, and the show is still finding itself.
* Don’t spec a show that’s more than four or five seasons old. Five seasons is the magical syndication number, few shows go past it.

Whatever’s leftover in the middle is the sweetspot.

2. How do you avoid bad buzz? Every source I’ve pestered for answers so far has used the word “buzz” in relation to a successful spec. “The show you choose needs to have the right kind of buzz.” The problem is that the geek world in which I so lovingly exist buzzes about a lot of things that the mainstream world doesn’t. How can I be sure I’m following the correct stream?

The only buzz you need to worry about is the industry buzz, drawing a slight distinction between writer buzz and business buzz, everything else is just useless noise. That holds especially true for internet fanboys (and girls). Don’t listen to these folks, they’re perspective is so biased as to be useless.

Writer buzz is basically whatever shows writers are talking about with other writers. Mad Men probably the quintessential example of a show like this right now.

Industry buzz is similar, but you expand it to include shows that are tearing up the ratings as well. Using this metric you’d add shows like NCIS to the list.

Best way to figure out what show’s have good buzz is to start reading the industry rags. Spend some time looking at the TV coverage on The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, some of the good television critics, or websites like TV By The Numbers.

3. Where should my story fall? Is it imperative that my spec fall chronologically in time with the show’s most recent episodes? Are there any downsides to writing an episode that fits into, say, the second season instead of the fourth? How do you choose the acceptable time to insert your spec?

Serialized shows are a pain in the ass for a variety of reasons. They’re tough to spec, because you have to fit the story into the existing chronology of the show. They go out of date a lot quicker than a straight procedural does, because the show’s evolving season to season. If you spec a serialized show those are the challenges you’re going to be going up against.

Now, relating it back to your specific question: Where should my story fall? Make it as current as possible. If you set it earlier in the show’s chronology you’re just dating yourself and your script. People will assume you haven’t been keeping up with the show. Also if the show’s changed dramatically between seasons your spec won’t be current.

4. How much leeway do I have? I’ve been told that creating a new character is a no-go unless they are restricted to the one episode. How much leeway do I have with other creative devices? Ex: Using a narrative VO when the show doesn’t usually have one?

DO NOT CHANGE THE SHOW. I can’t stress that enough. If the show doesn’t use voice over, then don’t use voice over. If the show doesn’t feature a character, then don’t introduce that character (obvious exceptions would be a murder suspect in a procedural).

The point of a spec is to show that you can write the show as it is, not your own version of said show. The more you change it, the further away you get from that goal.

Writing a spec around a guest star is probably the most common example of this mistake. Usually a writer does it because the guest character’s a lot of fun to write. The problem is that the character often winds up taking over the entire script, regular characters disappear, and you wind up with a spec that looks nothing like the show you’re trying to spec.

In other words, you have no lee way.

5. How important is genre? Drama is my passion, and therefore I am choosing to spec a dramatic series. Is it arrogant to also write a comedy spec as a fallback? Some forums say choose a lane, others say try everything. Am I shooting myself in the foot by appearing undecided with a mix of genres?

I think this really depends on what you’re trying to do, and what your immediate goals are.

If you’re trying to land an agent, then having a drama and a comedy spec would be an asset. It means that you can write both genres, shows your versatility, and thus there are that many more jobs they can put you up for.

If you’re trying to land a writing gig right out the gate, then showing a lack of focus might be detrimental. Say you’re up for a drama, they read your first drama spec and want to read something else. Unfortunately you only have a comedy to send. It’s may not be a deal breaker, but it’s probably not the greatest thing.

Personally I usually recommend a focused approach when choosing what to spec. If your primary goal is to be a one hour writer, but you want to show off your comedic chops, then I’d write a one hour drama with a lot of comedic elements (Chuck, Bones, etc). But the answer to this one is really kind of up to the individual.

Anyways, hope those answers help!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Five Questions About Spec'ing a Series

It's a Tuesday morning, I have my coffee and exactly 17 minutes and I'm going to milk you for answers. Here are five questions I have while preparing to write a spec (or two?) of an existing television show:

1. How old is too old? I realize the show needs to be on the air, but is there a limit to what season it should be in? If its running into a fifth or sixth is it nearing an expiry date?

2. How do you avoid bad buzz? Every source I've pestered for answers so far has used the word "buzz" in relation to a successful spec. "The show you choose needs to have the right kind of buzz." The problem is that the geek world in which I so lovingly exist buzzes about a lot of things that the mainstream world doesn't. How can I be sure I'm following the correct stream?

3. Where should my story fall? Is it imperative that my spec fall chronologically in time with the show's most recent episodes? Are there any downsides to writing an episode that fits into, say, the second season instead of the fourth? How do you choose the acceptable time to insert your spec?

4. How much leeway do I have? I've been told that creating a new character is a no-go unless they are restricted to the one episode. How much leeway do I have with other creative devices? Ex: Using a narrative VO when the show doesn't usually have one?


5. How important is genre? Drama is my passion, and therefore I am choosing to spec a dramatic series. Is it arrogant to also write a comedy spec as a fallback? Some forums say choose a lane, others say try everything. Am I shooting myself in the foot by appearing undecided with a mix of genres?

So help a newbie out. Dish out the dirt. Everything you know about writing a spec of an existing show. I'll bake you cookies!