Here we are again, again. Facing the blank page. This time, I know what NEEDS to go onto, as, well, I’ve been here before. I’m talking about the page one rewrite. That thing where you have an idea, you’ve written a bunch of pages, maybe even a first draft, then you realize: it sucks. IT sucks. Not the idea. What to do? The page one rewrite.
I’m working on a new spec pilot. Another cop show. Because… well… Just because, ok? (Don’t judge me, I’m in a terrible mood.) It focuses on the detective characters and how his unique personality informs how he solves the crime. (Let’s be honest–that’s all a cop show is. The crimes don’t REALLY matter, it’s how the main character behaves, that’s what we care about.
I have a first draft. It sorta worked, but not really. The main character came off more like an asshole than anything. And who wants to watch an asshole? (Not to say he’s got to be nice or even likable. But an asshole is a person of a singular dimension.) I had a mystery. One I liked just fine. Which… I’ll come back to.
I talked about the first draft with a friend of mine, and I sorta hit on a way to approach the character, where he can KINDA be like an asshole, but still likable… or dare I say it, lovable. Charming. Forgivable for being an asshole. So, I started just a rewrite… I was going to keep the same mystery. I’m horrible at figuring out mysteries. A compelling, rich, twisty mystery… hard to do. So, I thought I would keep it.
Until… I realized… It was just fine. It was sorta toothless. And boring. At least to me.
So… I chucked it out too. Thus: the page one rewrite. I was initially discouraged by that. Starting ALL the way over? Man, I put in a lot of time and effort… I even did SPELL CHECK, and I’m going to throw it all out? Yes. That SUCKS. Yes.
But, you know what? It makes sense. I’m writing a TV pilot. I’m writing a pilot that… if Santa Claus exists… were to be made into a show, would sorta BE rewriting from page one each week. Each week would be new problems, personally and professionally for the main characters. So, actually, in this case, doing a page one rewrite is a GOOD THING. It tests whether or not this idea has some legs. Whether or not it could go seven years…
So. It’s good. Right? Because, MAN, is it exhausting.