This is how a Twitter debate about spec scripts became a research project that then became a database for writers trying to break into television.
The idea on whether or not to write a spec script of your favorite television show came up on Twitter this week and many staffed writers responded with episodes they specced that helped them break-in, as well as strategies they used.
It was a helpful discussion that was a fascinating window into the idea of to spec or not to spec. But aside from the debate, people wanted to read each others' spec scripts and talk about them.
Enter The Bitter Script Reader.
The Bitter Script Reader is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter because he does his due diligence when it comes to researching all things screenwriting and always provides the answers that he finds.
He took it upon himself to begin to compile these scripts and to make them accessible for anyone who wanted to read them.
Check Out The Bitter Script Reader's Spec Database
Almost a year ago, Bitter tweeted about why spec scripts used to be essential but have since fallen off as things required of writers breaking into television. He called for writers who broke in using these specs to let him know what they wrote and why.
Little by little, more and more writers responded.
This thread actually came into its own a few days ago with the debate on whether or not it was a good idea to write a spec when breaking into the industry. From there, Bitter began to compile all the spec scripts these TV writers used to get into rooms.
Now, he has a full working database on his website where you can read these specs and take inspiration when creating your own!
"If you're a pro writer and you want your spec to join this archive, email me at zuulthereader at Gmail, and I will be happy to add you to the list along with as many of your old specs as you wish to submit. If you want to give a little context for those specs, please do."
Should I write a spec script?
The consensus online was that writing spec scripts is a great way to show that a writer can mimic a voice and thus fit into a room. Still, many showrunners said they were more inclined to read pilots to figure out if a writer was good at crafting characters and dialogue without the crutch of someone else's intellectual property.
In the end, I think that specs are useful exercises, but I have not found them helpful in my own writing journey. I have a Walking Dead spec I wrote six years ago as part of a grad school requirement.
While I like that script, all of my (limited) interaction with showrunners and in TV meetings have been about originals I wrote. And my manager has given me the green light to write more of them because not only do they get me staffing meetings, but they also become commodities we can try to attach producers to and try to sell.
Still, specs are useful for lots of grants, contents, and even studio writing programs. So it might be useful to have one in your back pocket for when the time comes.
And now you have a database to check out for inspiration!
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