Now that I've been working in TV development for over a year, I'm finally getting a feel for how this whole cock-eyed business works. And since I work specifically in developing for cable networks, I'm beginning to understand just how specific the networks' needs are. Each network has its own brand that they feel they must maintain at all costs.
All this is now so helpful when I take a look at the TV pilot scripts I have written myself. I went back last week and took a look at something I'd written two years ago - eons ago. It was nice to see that it wasn't half bad, but with my new perspective, I realized that it wasn't quite right for any of the networks. The writing wasn't half bad, and the idea had some merit, but it sat fat in the middle of the road, just being itself, not making a big statement one way or the other.
So now I'm tilting it more strongly in the direction I think it needs to go to appeal to a network. I've got two networks in mind in particular. I don't expect them to ever buy it or make it - don't get me wrong. But at least now I've got a goal in mind that will sharpen and focus the script. And that should make it a better writing sample.
So my unsolicited advice to would-be TV writers out there - when you write your spec pilot script, aim it square at one network or the other. That way, when someone reads it, they'll think - wow, I can really SEE this on ABC, or HBO, or TNT. You don't need to know the identities of all the networks, but if you pick one and go for it, it may help you write a script that actually feels like a real TV show.