I want to share some “keep it simple stupid” tips used to write my Web series “Parker and Steve: a bromcom."
1. Write within your means. While it would have been great to write a role for George Clooney, a scene that could only shoot in Bora Bora, a scene where a car blows up—that simply wasn’t feasible. Every scene I wrote in the series was shootable on our budget, which was small. I don’t want to limit you as a writer/thinker, but if you actually want to produce your writing, think/write in this way. When you get hired on that huge budget Scorsese film, sure, write scenes with Daniel Day-Lewis that happen on the moon. But until then, keep it to a location you can secure and afford.
2. Write for people you know. This entire series was written with someone in mind for almost every role. While we did cast many roles outside of the people I initially wrote for, I found it easier to write when I took a friend, sketched out their personality, and exaggerated it. Writing with someone in mind makes it easier to see how they would react, speak, and behave. And if it’s someone you know, then you also save a step in casting! Many of the actors in my series are playing exaggerated versions of themselves—and very well too.
3. Rewrite! Writing that first draft is all well and good, but don’t be afraid to have someone else peruse it, read it out loud with friends, send it to people, and collect their feedback. Let others chime in and help shape it. However, I would also say you shouldn't be afraid to stick to your guns. I have re-written some jokes/scenes that were unclear based on feedback, but I have also disregarded some feedback. You have to know when you are “off” and when you are “on.” It’s a judgment call.
4. Rewrite again based on things outside your control. I can’t tell you how many times we lost a location we had in mind, or an actor we wanted, or it snowed and our summer scene had to be reshaped. “Rarely is anything absolute” is a good mantra to write by. Granted, there will be some things that are unchangeable, but keep your script/story flexible. On one of our big shoot days, we had 15 people in a big party scene and this one actor just didn’t come, so I had to rewrite all of his lines on the spot. Luckily the script was open enough that we could do it, but always be able to fix/think your way out of any potential problems. Directors come in handy on things like this, too.
5. Just write. There were days when I had no idea what to write. I stared at that screen for hours, then procrastinated on Facebook, looked at my fantasy baseball team, etc. I made myself start typing. You don’t always have to know where you’re going, so start typing and let your imagination run as wild as your fingers!
6. Just do it! If I waited till I had all the money I wanted, all the time I needed, or till Clooney read the script, it never would have happened. You can’t always dot every “i” or cross every “t.” While you should still try, you also just need to do it already, or else spend every day wishing you had. It’s your call.
I hope these tips help you in whatever you write! Please check out the pilot episode of "Parker and Steve" at Parkerandsteve.com, (there’ll be a new episode up every other Monday) and follow me on twitter @timintravia!