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Writers second-guessing themselves

As many of you know, I'm writing some audio dramas for Dark Shadows. I'm totally jazzed about this. I loved DS, loved working for Dan Curtis and love the fans with whom I've become acquainted.

I was sent some scripts. They were great -- right up my alley. A combination of short story writing and television writing. Very atmospheric and creepy.

But now I have to come up with some pitches. So I order videos and start having a DS marathon, which I'm totally enjoying. The acting was really good -- even allowing for the flubbed lines and the problems with shooting a live tv show in the 60s.

So I wrote up two pitches and sent them off. One of them I questioned sending because it was too close to the original show and the people at Big Finish are looking for -- well, I'm still figuring that out.

I sent the pitch anyway. The first pitch was way better, much more creative.

Which one did they flip for -- right, the second pitch. And with their notes on it, I'm flipping for it as well.

You'd think I'd learn this lesson by now. When Danna (my writing partner at the time) and I were pitching for Murder,She Wrote after it had been on the air for 10 seasons, we came up with a list of ideas. I had one -- a vampire comes to Cabot Cove. I didn't want to pitch it. I thought they'd never go for it. But Danna talked me into it. And yes, they bought it. The next season we pitched a ghost ship sailing into Cabot Cove harbor. They bought that one too.

So many times we writers try to out-think the people, whether they be editors, producers or whatever, who are going to buy our work. And you know what? You can't. If I hadn't sent in that second pitch I'd probably would still work on the second one, but they wouldn't have been as excited about it and who knows if it would have actually made it into production.

So the moral of the story is, send your stuff out. Don't try to second guess what the people out there buying want. Yes, look at guidelines and read the magazines. Don't send a horror story to Analog. But if you find yourself saying, "Oh so and so wouldn't like this," slap yourself up alongside the head and send that puppy out. You just never know.


Good advice! And I'm glad you're having fun with such a cool assignment.
Great comment, Debbie. It's one of the fundamentals of writing (and one that I keep forgetting...).

July 2010

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