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Author Topic: What do you do with a spec script no one asked for?
New Member
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Firstly, I have never published anything as a writer, still in a very formative stage.

My first serious completed project is a television adaptation of a comic book. A few people have read it, including someone who used to read scripts for a living, and the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. None of the readers have seen the original material it was adapted from(it's slightly obscure) and still are interested.

The trouble is, I have no rights whatsoever to this work, so obviously I can't do a lot with it. I was planning to just send off a copy to the original author and thank him for his work and say that it inspired me to produce this script. I don't necessarily want to get into discussion of getting things made or selling it, etc.

I am relatively confident of the marketability of the concept, I think the nature of the material leads to a near limitless story potential and the characterizations have broad appeal.

I know I went about this the wrong way, and really it was mostly meant as an educational exercise for my own amusement and growth. Should I just let it go at that? Is there a known methodology of pursuing things at this point?

Any and all advice appreciated, thanks!

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Member # 3233

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I am going to ramble some ideas. hopefully someone who actually knows what they are talking about, will give you real information.

My guess, is to send a quiry letter to the creator of the comic book and ask if they would be interested in seeing a script based on their story.
Others here can tell you what the letter should contain.
Your next step is based on the creator's answer.

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Well, writing a script for something you're already familiar with is a start. And the fact that you finished it says a lot. You've got the ability to follow through with your ideas, which is where a lot of people fall out of the race. And it's an easy way to warm up, starting with characters that are already complete, and who you can visualize within their world.

But now that you've done that, the next challenge is: can you come up with your own world, and your own characters, and follow that all the way through to the end? Contacting the person who has the rights to the characters you've already written about is a possibility, but I bet you could go a lot further with something that's original. Get busy and show us what you got! Good Luck!

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Robert Nowall
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Well, if you want to write for TV or the movies, you need to go out and find an agent. TV / movies are worse than print publishing where writers are concerned---they won't look at anything unless a reputable agent sends it over. There's both a constant need for new talent and an even more constant worry about being sued for plagiarism.

(Also don't bother the original creator with it. Mostly the plagiarism issue.)

If you're not interested in selling, or at least in selling that particular work, there's always Internet Fan Fiction. Search out an online group of fans of the comic book, find websites that put up stuff like that, and go from there. The legal right to do so may be vague, and the money is a complete zero, but you might find an appreciative audience---and sometimes that's more important. (I get the impression you're not interested in this angle right now---but I thought I'd just put it out there for consideration.)

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I believe there are some contests where you are able to write for existing shows. That might include all copyrighted material. Check www.moviebytes.com for lists of contest. They keep "report cards" on various contests telling you if they give feedback, how professional they are, etc.

And you could check into the forum at www.zoetrope.com. They can get pretty wild, but I learned a lot about screenwriting there. They have various "rooms" for different genres. They might have one for comics.

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Eh, I am more interested in the technical aspects of writing. Adaptation appeals a lot more to me than new work. I am not necessarily a very creative person. That may change once I develop more confidence in my mechanical writing ability.
I have found some contact info for the original author's film/TV agent and will pursue it through them. If nothing else, if she just forwards a copy, that would be great. Really, a letter from the original author saying Thanks or Fine Work or something like that would be very nearly as thrilling as a paycheck.

Thanks for the feedback, folks.

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Member # 5638

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Firstly I do not see how you can divorce the technical aspects of writing fiction from creativity. For example, one important technical aspect is character and motivation, and that has to be right in the adaptation as well as the original. For example, if you have to cut scenes to make it fit the TV slot, or to engineer a cliff-hanger for an advertising break, you'll have to do it in such a fashion as to retain clear motivation; that demands creativity.

Second, you have to remain true to the author's vision of the story and its backstory, and where the story might go if there are follow-on works such as sequels, prequels and spinoffs. Without access to what's in the author's head, you can't do it.

For these reasons, doing adaptations of other people's work is technically more difficult than creating your own.

On what you do now, I don't know. Certainly, if it were my work you had adapted, I would reject it out of hand because I strongly believe in copyright, and would protect my worlds fiercely from fanfic. Even if it were good I would still reject it in order to set a precedent. And, I'd either want to do the TV adaptation myself, or have a proven TV scriptwriter do it.

I would encourage you to try your hand at being creative, because you'll learn far more and you'll see how the technical and creative aspects are intimately linked. When I started I thought too I couldn't design a plot, but it turns out that I can. Often, at Hatrack, we see writers develop ability and confidence and, as Deb says, if you can finish a script you must have some talent somewhere. Here's a challenge: if you were creative, what would your first story be about? (In answering the question I hope you might find a story ...)

Hope this helps,

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Robert Nowall
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At the very least, you could get some use out of the script with agents and markets by letting them see what you can do and whether you can handle it...
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Well, once again, at the slightest hint of distaste or any sort of negativity from the original author, that will be the end of that. I'll probably never use it or show it to anyone in any form. I am not wanting to step on anyone's toes. This author has had other works adapted and optioned for work by third-parties, and has worked in TV/film as well. So we will see what happens.

When it comes to building plots and such from scratch, I don't know, it just doesn't come easily. Or even with a lot of difficulty, for that matter. If I am working on taking something out of text and adapting it for a more visual medium, that's easier. I can visualize precisely what I want out of each shot and frame. I can definitely feel out the flow and style of TV and film a lot easier than a novel. I would be perfectly content at this point adapting optioned properties for studios for a living.

This might just all be very cheesy excuse-making for preferring to write with giant training wheels. I am not sure I could call myself a WRITER in good company without having some amount of original material, no matter what degree of financial success I might attain.

I'll pass this along as planned to the Right People, if anything worthwhile comes of it, I will let you know. Either way it's onto project Next. Have a few things I would like to do, they'll have to Thunderdome it out for brain-time.

Thanks again.

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Member # 2651

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Sounds like rights tot he work is the MAJOR issue here. You don't own it, and you need to be VERY cautious showing work out to possible agents/producers if you're in no position to follow through.

I'd be very interested to know who/what the adaptation is from. If it's someone who's already been optioned and even had work filmed (as you suggest), then I'd basically treat what you've done as fanfic, but a valuable learning exercise, because it's your take on someone else's work (and since it's a comic - is it even the creator's work? A lot of comics are work-for-hire on corporate-owned properties).

You've learnt from the exercise. You've got valuable feedback. Now it's time to look at what you can do on your own - or with another creator, but with their active permission/collaboration.

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Grant John
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If you are interested in writing for TV you can use this as an example of your skills. I heard somewhere (probably the commetary of some Sit Com or other) that the way to become a TV writer is to write your own episodes of shows then submit them (possibly through an agent). They also said, do not write a script for the show you want to work on, write a script for a different show, because the writers/creators of a show know their characters better than you could and therefore will be more critical of what you are doing with their 'babies' than what you might be doing with someone elses characters.

If you are particularly interested in making the show you have already written, then contacting the creator is the way.

Hope that helps,


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