Today I took some time to edit one of my TV Pilots, College Monster Farce, and I wanted to share my experience doing so.

You can read College Monster Farce in its current incarnation here if you’d like.

To preface the editing process, I’ll give some background about how Monster Farce was written, and what I’ve done with it so far.

I had the idea to write about a campus security group that fights zombies in 2008, and wrote it into a one act musical which I used as a writing sample to apply to a screenwriting MFA program. Later, I wanted to revisit the same idea in a different format, so in 2017 I rewrote it into a television pilot.

The 2017 writing of Monster Farce was done in extreme haste. I decided to pitch a staged pilot reading of my two television pilots to The Annoyance Theatre & Bar, and when I did that, just to make things spicy for myself, I hadn’t actually written either of them yet. The Annoyance graciously gave me a show date, which allowed me about six weeks to write both pilots from loose ideas to finished products with enough time to find actors and stage the readings (which was its own can of worms).

The result was sorta good, but also really bad. Because of the deadline, I was forced to haul my ass to the library every day and fucking write two pilots. The downside was that stress of the time crunch turned me into a crazy person.

When the reading date rolled around, (I think) the audience could sense the stress. Of the 30 or so people who were there, 28 of them were also writers who knew me from the community and I think they were expecting something better from me. Instead they got two pilots that were silly, not smart, sci-fi themed, and different than what everyone else was doing. So basically my friends and mentor hated my pilots. On the upside, the two remaining audience members were people off the street who didn’t have any expectations. They were the only ones who laughed during the show, and afterwards they approached me and told me they had a great time and loved the work. So overall the reaction/s were mixed, but I still felt like a failure and I never wanted to see these pilots again. Case closed!

Fast forward to two years later in 2019, when I’m watching Netflix and find an original series called The Order which is just as fucking stupid as Monster Farce and similar in a lot of ways. I reread Monster Farce that day and decided that no, it wasn’t terrible. There were good things about it and maybe I shouldn’t have completely abandoned it…

So that is the back story. Now to the edits. This is what needs to change about Monster Farce.

  • The school name, Green Flower needs to be better. It either needs to be one word, GreenFlower, or it needs to be something entirely different that ties into the rest of the story. (Names are hard!)
  • The stage direction, especially in the teaser needs to be drastically reduced and made more concise. (It’s a newb mistake to write too much stage direction.)
  • The character’s name Persephone has to go. I chose that name because it was a character name from Law & Order, SVU when Benson went under cover for the FBI and investigated environmental terrorists. Persephone is a stupid name and I think the character should be called Madison instead. Thoughts? (Comment if you have thoughts.)
  • I need to pick a name for the fraternity where Abdul is getting the weed. Again, I think it would be better if I named it something that ties into the rest of the story. Maybe something ridiculous like Dummy Epsilon Fucktard? JK! Fucktard is a rude term. 
  • I’m changing Kyle’s major and minor from Paranormal Psychology and Alien Abductions to Monsterology and Alienology, respectively.
  • I’m making a point to indicate that the rapper Skanky Ass Bitches is a white rapper. Otherwise all the Weed Genie’s back story comes off as racist.
  • I had considered changing the reveal that the financial aid crisis was a hoax from the top of the second act to the bottom of the second act, but ya know what? I’m too lazy. This is meant to be a character driven piece and the plot takes a backseat. I’ll leave it as is.

If you’re wondering how I edited this, I did it in an Adobe Acrobat app on my iPad and annotated the pdf script with red pen markings using my Apple Pencil. I haven’t actually made the changes in Final Draft yet (I use the iOS app because it’s only $20 and the $200 version of Final Draft I have on my desktop is no longer supported or something, also I’m having trouble locating the actual Final Draft version of the pdf script but it’s somewhere). I’ll get to the edits in Final Draft later.

BTDubs… Final Draft is a scriptwriting program. Don’t buy it. There are free options out there. This is just the industry standard. I bought it because I like to obsess about equipment and such before actually doing things.

This concludes the writing of my current blog post. I thought it would be a good idea to bang out edits to Monster Farce before starting the horror fiction piece I wrote about in my last blog post.

I also wanted to mention that I went to see Midsommar in the theater yesterday and I had the urge to review it in this blog. I think adding my reactions to the zillions of horror and sci-fi movies I watch in theaters and online might be a cool way to drive traffic to my site because of SEO (or whatever) so it’s something I’m considering for the future. As a rule though, I think it’s best to hold off on starting new projects until I finish old projects and follow through on current ideas. Contact me if you think reviewing current horror and sci-fi in this blog would be a cool addition. I’m definitely enjoying this blog, and I want to do more with it!

Next blog post- Friday.

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Thanks for reading!

Jessica