I’m at the airport on my way to Denver. Scheduling delays. I couldn’t sleep last night, worried about the pilot story for Straight Up and Dirty, struggling with whether or not it’s the right story to tell, wondering if it sets up the series and tone of the show the way I want it to.
I wonder if it’s like a wedding dress. You know, something that when you try it on, you just know it’s the one. I’m waiting for that to happen, but with the twenty or so stories I’ve come up with, I don’t feel that about any of them yet. It’s why I’m hoping it’s less about the story I’m telling and much more in the telling of it.
It’s no small task: establishing the characters, and how they fit into Stephanie’s life, carving out where the show will live (apartment, hangout spot, office, etc.), all while showing her frame of mind, externalizing her internal struggle, setting up conflicts between characters, defining desires and needs. Her desires can’t be vague, either. "She wants to find herself," just ain’t gonna cut it. They have to be specific enough that the audience knows the moment she gets what she wants. Or doesn’t.
Her opponents (regular opponents, not random men who ask her to go dutch on a date) need to attack her greatest weakness so she’s forced to grow. And these opponents have to be necessary, with their own weaknesses and opposing values, yet share similarities with her, too. Each of her opponents has to attack her weakness from a different angle, and in as different a way as possible from one another. All this, and it has to be funny. It is, after all, a half-hour comedy. I might think too much, but I need the answers to these questions before I can think about the funny. I need the bone structure so I know it has longevity. I’ve actually already worked that bit out and am now left with the task of creating the story I’m going to tell, of all the possible stories in the book. In less than thirty minutes, we need to know where Stephanie is now that she’s divorced, what it is she wants, and get a sense of what’s in store for her now…and all while referring to myself in the third person.
Then tonight, I’ll need to shift gears and speak about chubb rub and chunky-dunking. I’m not really planning on reading from Moose, but I might just slip in a quick page or two, to give the audience a better sense of the book. You know, show, not tell what the book’s about. I NEVER know what to select. It’s the same issue I have with choosing just one pilot story. There’s so much there. So many topics covered, and I only get one chance to convince people to stick around and watch it, or read it. From those of you who’ve read the books, I’m listening.