What Is The Bad Guy Doing?

Lee, Steve Cannell & William Link at Santa Barbara Book Fest
Lee Goldberg, Stephen J. Cannell, and COLUMBO co-creator William Link at the Santa Barbara Book Festival

Creating a strong antagonist in a crime novel can be the key to the success or failure of your story. I’m a firm believer that “the bad guy” has to be as smart or, preferrably, smarter than my hero…and someone whose personality and actions will highlight all the weaknesses and conflicts that make my hero who he is.

I also make sure my “bad guy” is more than just a bad guy…he’s someone with his own agenda, his own demons, his own needs, someone who has more going on in his life than whatever criminal act he is engaged in (or that he has already committed). And that’s very important. Rarely is anyone just pure evil for evil’s sake…except in cartoons, Batman episodes, or James Bond movies.

I always try to look at the story from the bad guy’s point of view and ask myself what he’d be doing if he was the hero of the story…and if my protagonist was, in his view, the “bad guy.” I have to invest as much thought in my bad guy as do in my hero if the story is going to work.

You can learn a lot about making bad guys rich characters by watching THE SOPRANOS, a show that’s ostensibly all about the bad guys. Sure, they killed people, but they also had mortgages to pay, worried about their kids, read the morning paper, had all the responsibilities, hopes, dreams, and anxieties that “good guys” have. They didn’t wake up each day and ask themselves “what evil can I do today…mwa-ha-ha.”

I learned to make my bad guys fully-rounded characters, with lives and goals of their own, from watching COLUMBO…and later working for Stephen J. Cannell…and reading Elmore Leonard and Larry McMurtry.

On COLUMBO, we spent the first half-hour of each episode watching the bad guys, getting into their lives, understanding why they had to kill. But what ultimately made COLUMBO such a pleasure was that he was always outmatched by the bad guys…and beat them anyway. The smarter the bad guys were, the smarter he had to be to beat them. Or, to put it another way, the best bad guys brought out the best in Columbo.

It was Steve Cannell, one of my mentors, who taught me to always ask myself “What is the bad guy doing?” “What does the bad guy want?” “What is the bad guy thinking about?” in every scene where the bad guy wasn’t on screen. The bad guy always had to be doing something, not sitting around waiting for the detective to catch him or simply throwing obstacles in the detective’s way.

Elmore Leonard and Larry McMurtry (in his westerns) made their “villains” as likeable, layered and interesting as their heroes…in fact, some times they were even more compelling. Leonard and McMurtry excelled at creating likeable, funny, believable psychopaths and killers.

The bottom line: having a strong antagonist makes your hero stronger and your story better.

(This post was originally written for April’s The Big Thrill Roundtable)

Writing is Rewriting

My writing ritual is simple. I do my best writing from 8 pm-2 am…and I usually start my day at 10 or 11 am by rewriting what i did the day before. When that is done, I start writing “the new stuff.” I repeat that process until the book is done.

I’m a big believer that writing is rewriting…and that it’s always easier to rewrite crap than it is to fill an empty page…

Get. Something. On. The. Page.

That is my writing mantra.

But that often means that what I end up with at the end of the day is terrible or just the broad strokes of what I am going for. I know I will go back, sharpen the dialogue and color between the lines, adding the character or details left out in my eagerness get something down. Or it can go the other way…I’ve written endless reams of exposition and dialogue that I need to trim with an ax. Ten pages of blather becomes three pages of tight, lean writing. If what I’ve written doesn’t further the plot and reveal character then it has to go. I am also very aware the beat of my story, the pace…it’s almost like tapping my foot to music. If i lose that beat, cuts or revisions need to be made to move things along.

I typically go through the pages with an eye toward cutting all the exposition that I possibly can,all the unnecessary details that slow the pace, and taking whatever clever lines I come across in prose seeing if I can put them into my characters’ mouths instead. I strike out any cliche phrases, which were left as place-holders for actual writing that I’d do in the revisions.

I will often rewrite a scene four, five or six times before a book is finished. So when I complete my first draft, it’s pretty close to done. Anything I do at that point, before turning it in, is more about tweaking and polishing.

PS – I should also mention that I always work from an outline, I never just wing it. I need to know where I am going so that when I’m writing I’m concentrating on writing, not plotting. My plot may change (and often does) as I write, and when that happens, I revise my outline. That is a continual process. I usually finish my outline, which I call a living outline, about a week before I finish the book.

(This post was originally written for  April’s The Big Thrill Roundtable)

TV Book Reviews: Mr. Novak and Movies of the Week

I love TV and I have a secret addiction (okay, not so secret if you are reading this blog) to TV reference books and books about individual, often obscure TV shows. Here are reviews of two recent books that fit the bill.

Mr. Novak by Chuck HarterMR. NOVAK: An Acclaimed Television Series by Chuck Harter (Bear Manor Media)  Chuck Harter’s MR. NOVAK is a terrific book on the making of a short-lived, little-known (because it’s hardly been rerun), but widely-acclaimed (in its time) TV series that starred James Franciscus as a teacher and Dean Jagger as his principal. MR. NOVAK followed the successful DR. KILDARE template, a series made by the same studio and developed by E. Jack Neuman, the writer/creator of this series, and it was undoubtedly an inspiration for the much-more sucessful ROOM 222, which came along years later. Harter’s book benefits enormously from his extensive research and numerous interviews with the key players of the show, both behind the camera and in front of it (some interviews were conducted personally, others gleaned from press reports and other sources). In many ways, MR. NOVAK is a story of opportunity lost — the series was a critical and popular hit in its first season, but then was sabotaged by financial and creative studio and network meddling in the second season, which included a misguided change in the writing and the loss of key cast members. You don’t have to be a fan of MR. NOVAK to enjoy this book — in fact, I’ve never seen a single frame of the program. But I found the book fascinating anyway. The book comes with a detailed episode guide and two great bonus features — E. Jack Neuman’s “bible” for writers on the series and the synopsis of a two-part cross-over episode with DR. KILDARE about VD that was nixed at the last second by skittish NBC (the synopsis is inexplicably titled “a novelization” by Harter, which it most certainly is not). There are a lot of valuable lessons that current TV professionals — writers, producers, and executives — could learn from reading this detailed examination/appreciation/history/post-mortem of what could have been a landmark series in TV history if not for its death from self-inflicted wounds.

Note: This is a minor quibble, but two errors jumped out at me. In discussing the post-NOVAK career of James Franciscus, Harter says that LONGSTREET ran for two seasons and that HUNTER, an episionage series co-starring Linda Evans, ran for 13 episodes on SyFy. In fact, LONGSTREET only ran for one season and HUNTER aired on CBS for eight episodes (13 were shot, five never aired) in 1977…decades before SyFy channel even existed.

Are You In the House Alone coverARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999, Edited by Amanda Reyes (Headpress)   This book is a lot of fun and wonderfully captures the cheesy delight of the 1970s TV movies (the “scary Zuni fetish doll” from the classic movie-of-the-week Trilogy of Terror is mentioned four times in just the first 16 pages of the book!).

But the MOWs, as they were called, were more than just the TV equivalent of “grindhouse”/ “exploitation” movies. They were also a vivid reflection of our society at the time. Sadly, these often terrific movies are very hard to find, rarely showing up either on DVD or in syndication, and are very underappreciated. And that’s a shame, because as editor (and Made for TV Mayhem blogger) Amanda Reyes notes, “the seventies are considered the heyday of the made for television movie…the phenomenon of the television movie, while fairly well known, still struggles for recognition and remains one of the most overlooked mediums.” MOWs were also, as she observes, “a welcoming place for classic actors hoping to make a fast buck” and for “TV actors to break the mold of a long-running series in which they were often trapped.” Those of us of a certain age still remember the delight of seeing wholesome Andy Griffith become a baddie in the classic MOW Pray for the Wildcats or the spectacle of a faded big screen star like Bette Davis in the awful Madame Sin

Are You in the House Alone? is essentially a collection of hit-or-miss essays leading into a large section of reviews of some of the most memorable TV movies. The best essays are those focusing on the heyday of MOWs, the 1970s, and some of the thematic issues they tackled. The essays on “World War III in Television Movies” and “The Plight of the Small Screen Superhero” feel more like blogposts that the authors didn’t bother to flesh out for the book. And the section on mini-series (this is a book about TV movies, isn’t it?) and the TV films of Wes Craven read like filler.

Perhaps the best portion of this 338-page paperback is devoted to movie reviews, even if some of the choices are rather perplexing. I can see why Reyes included reviews of MOWs that were failed pilots for TV series (like Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby, Baffled, or Men of the Dragon), but I don’t get why include they also included a few that became series (like the MOW pilots for HAWAII FIVE-O, COLUMBO and HARRY O)? I would have preferred to see reviews of more obscure, unjustly forgotten MOWs. My other quibble with the reviews is that they all list the director and principal cast — but not the screenwriter. That strikes me as a major oversight (though, in some cases, the screenwriter was mentioned in the course of the review).

That said, this book was a giddy delight (a feeling clearly shared by many of the authors towards the movies),  thought-provoking….and a welcome bit of nostalgia. It had the same effect on me as hearing Burt Bacharach’s ABC Movie of the Week theme has on Reyes… “it brings back more than just the movies…it brings back a time, a place and a moment when your television set turned into a bonafide movie theater and anything was possible.”

 

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My Favorite One-Star Reviews of My Books

I like praise as much as anybody else, but I also get twisted enjoyment sometimes out of reading reviews that trash my books. Here are some of my favorite one-star reviews of my work:

Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. Skimmed through it so to save my brain cells from the most tabloid trash movie script effort of writing. My desperate need for a book still does not justify me actually turning the pages. Read the comics, you will be much better off and not have my need to flay myself for reading such trash.

Anytime it takes me four days to read a book is a sign it’s not going good.

This is such juvenile junk! The author of this trash has a sick, degraded mind.

this book is not something you can read to your mom or grandmom. The sexual references, while not too graphic, are still too embarrassing to be read aloud.

The only book I have deleted from my Kindle. Only gave it one star because there was no lower rating

This could have been a pretty good book except the author had to ruin it with the “f” word dozens of times & even used God’s name in vein a few times. Shame on you!!!!

Depressing to know the author is so widely read.

He’s about as funny as an uninvited guest standing in a corner with a lampshade over his head.

Terrible read. Dialogue was among silliest ever possibly strung together in one book. Looking forward to read the sequel soon.

This could have been a pretty good story line but the writer needs more imagination and a whole lot more English lessons. If I could give it less than one star I would. If he cleans up his act and works a little harder he may get to be a good writer but for now it’s a “don’t bother”

Mind-numbingly bad. We read books to entertain and stimulate our brains. This written by the numbers drivel will put it to sleep, induce a coma and flush all rational thought from your mind forever. Read at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

While Lee Child, Micheal Connelly and Joseph Wambaugh will never win Nobel Prizes, trash like this shows what good and articulate craftsmen they are.

Shame on you Lee Goldberg. I am done with anything with your name on it .

I haven’t read it yet — hopefully it is good

Too Daisy Duke for me!

 

TRUE FICTION Videos Hit the Web

The first of many TRUE FICTION videos and trailers have hit the web (I shared some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot a few weeks back). I really love this “movie style” trailer for the book:

And in this one, I personally invite you to read the book:

I can’t wait for the other videos to come out. They include short interviews and some embarrassing photos from my dark, mysterious past. They will be all over the web but I will be sure to share them here with you, too. I’ll also be sharing photos from my book tour, which begins April 14 at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.

TV Series Boxed Sets Review: Most Wanted, Raven, Lucan, The Master

I have a huge collection of  TV series boxed set DVDs. I am particularly fascinated by short-lived TV series… bombs like FUTURE COP, CHOPPER ONE, CORONET BLUE, THE OREGON TRAIL, THE MAGICIAN, THE YOUNG LAWYERS, and SPENCERS PILOTS are just a few of the failed series in my collection. Here are a few recent additions:

RAVEN: The Complete Series – This show is very much an artifact of its time and is heavily influenced by previous TV hits written, created & produced by Stephen J. Cannell (ROCKFORD, A-TEAM etc) and Glen A. Larson (MAGNUM PI, SWITCH)…which is no surprise, since RAVEN writer/creator Frank Lupo worked for them both for many years. Jeffrey Meek was a white ninja looking for his lost son and helping people in trouble in Hawaii. He was aided in his search, and his do-goodery, by his Army buddy “Ski,” played by Lee Majors. RAVEN is pure, escapist fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously (in fact, its much better than I remembered it). Majors pretty much stole the show from Meek, which wasn’t too hard. Meek was likeable, and a talented martial artist, but didn’t have much charisma. Nobody would mistake him for the next Tom Selleck, James Garner, or even Lee Majors (in his glory days). Even so, I’m surprised the series didn’t last longer…perhaps it was a matter of timing, hitting the scene just as this style of television was becoming dated and stale (at least for the time being). This was Meek’s second attempt at TV stardom (having previously starred in the short-lived latenight series THE EXILE) and would have one more failed shot (MORTAL COMBAT) before the networks gave up on him as a series lead. The kitschy main title sequence and Christopher Franke’s theme truly capture the flavor of the show.

MOST WANTED: The Complete Series – I had to buy this. I am a sucker for any series Quinn Martin produced, especially the really obscure ones (I can’t wait for A MAN CALLED SLOANE, CARIBE, BERT D’ANGELO: SUPERSTAR, and BANYON to come to DVD. How pathetic does that make me?). Robert Stack didn’t show a lot of range on television. He played the leader of an elite crime fighting force in three series (THE UNTOUCHABLES, MOST WANTED, and STRIKE FORCE) and a crime reporter in another (THE NAME OF THE GAME). MOST WANTED, which aired on ABC in 1975, is easily the worst of Stack’s four TV series and assembly-line Quinn Martin fare — in fact, the police station set is identical to the one in THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO. By far the best thing about the show is Lalo Schifrin’s terrific theme…and the most interesting aspect of the show is how the main title sequence changed between the one used for first two episodes and the one used for the rest of the short-lived series — the action sequences in the first one were replaced by shots of Stack awkwardly attempting to smile. Still, as bad as the show is creatively (and perhaps explicitly because of it), I enjoyed the set, which says a lot, given how technically awful the transfers are.  I realize CBS isn’t going to spend the money to digitally remaster prints for a set like this, which appeals to a very narrow niche of customers. That said, I wish the studio would still put a little effort into it and find prints that weren’t run through sand paper before being transferred. The image clarity, color levels, and sound quality are wildly uneven/inconsistent from one episode to another. It’s as if they just slapped this together in an afternoon. The studio could have taken more care and produced a quality product. 

THE MASTER: The Complete Series – For some reason, I had fond memories of this show…which is why I bought the set. What was I thinking!? The show itself is absolutely awful by just about every measure. Lee Van Cleef doesn’t even bother to act, seemingly reading lines off some distant cue card and repeating the words as if English was his second, or perhaps third, language and doesn’t understand what he is saying. The scripts are terrible. The direction is perfunctory. The martial arts sequences are poorly staged and edited…it’s laughably obvious when Van Cleef steps out and the stunt man steps in. Bill Conti’s music is a rehash of his FOR YOUR EYES ONLY score. It’s easy to see why this show bombed. Oh, I forgot to mention the concept. Van Cleef is a white ninja searching for his long lost daughter. He is aided in his do-goodery by Max (Timothy Van Patten), wise cracking kid tooling around the country in what look like Scooby Doo’s van. The DVD set itself is exceptionally well-produced with pristine picture and sound. 

LUCAN: The Complete Series – I didn’t buy this set because I was LUCAN fan (though I did  fondly remember composer Fred Karlin’s theme, which was only used in the pilot and first episode. I had it on a cassette tape). It’s one of those wonderfully awful, totally deriviative series from the 1970s that inexplicably fascinate me. LUCAN only lasted for 13 sporadically aired episodes and, to my knowledge, has never been rerun. The pilot starred Kevin Brophy as a man who was raised by wolves…and ends with him setting off to wander the country in search of his parents and, spirtually, himself. Sort of ROUTE 66 meets TARZAN…and is every bit as awful as it sounds. That quickly changed…the concept, that is…and the show became steadily worse throughout its short run.  In fact, the most memorable thing about the show was how often the format changed. After the second episode, there’s a new theme by JJ Johnson and now authorities, concerned Lucan might “revert to wolf,” have hired a bounty hunter to track him down and imprison him. And four episodes later, the concept changed again...now the bounty hunter had inexplicably become a cop and Lucan was being pursued for a murder he didn’t commit. It became a poor man’s THE FUGITIVE with a touch of THE INCREDIBLE HULK thrown in (THE PHOENIX, HOT PURSUIT, STARMAN and a dozen other short-lived series of the 70s and 80s also had the same, basic premise and were just as awful). 

TV Books A-Go-Go

Sometimes I think Richard Irvin is writing books just for me. It’s almost like I’m holding him prisoner in my basement, feeding him Cheetos and forcing him to write TV reference books on delightfully obscure subjects for my personal amusement. His credits so far include such gems as Forgotten Laughs: An Episode Guide to 150 Sitcoms You Probably Never Saw, George Burns’ Television Productions: The Series and Pilots, Spinning Laughter: Profiles of 111 Proposed Comedy Spin-offs and Sequels That Never Became Series.  Now he’s back with two more winners…

The Early Shows: A Reference Guide to Network and Syndicated Primetime Television Series from 1944-1949 (Bear Manor Media) This is an amazing work of television search and scholarship, tracking shows from the dark ages of television that few people have seen or ever heard of. Irvin is the consumate researcher and goes into astonishing detail on each show. But this is far from a dry, boring reference book…it’s hours of fascinating reading, it’s also a time capsule offering a glimpse into the cultural, historical, technological issues of the day…and an intriguing foreshadow of what was to come in television’s future. It’s full of cool trivia — for example, in the sitcom Mama (1949-1956), Dick Van Patten played the eldest son, but when he had to miss a few episodes James Dean stepped in to play the character in his place. And guest stars in the sitcom included Paul Newman and Jack Lemmon. One of my favorite discoveries in the book is a series called Off The Record, which ran for two episodes in September 1948. It starred Zero Mostel as a millionaire DJ broadcasting a radio show from his lavish Manhattan penthouse apartment. Mostel walked off the show when the producer failed to deliver a promised live audience to fill the theater where the sitcom was filmed.  Another intriguing show is the dark drama anthology Mr. Black, which aired for a just few weeks in the fall of 1949, and was written entirely by novelist and prolific television writer Bill Ballinger. Mr. Black was the Devil’s emissary on earth and he took particular delight in  pitting people against one another and seeing just how much death and misery he could cause. So little is known about the show that there’s some dispute over who actually starred in it.  I know I say this a lot, especially about Irvin’s books, but this is a must-have for any television reference collection. But wait, there’s more…

Film Stars’ Television Projects: Pilots and Series of 50+ Movie Greats 1948-1985 by Richard Irvin (McFarland & Co). I went into this thinking there wasn’t going to be anything here of interest to me…after all, I wrote Unsold Television Pilots 1955-1989. What could he tell me about the pilots by film stars that I don’t already know? Quite a bit!  I loved this book. He gives deep background and detailed synopses of the TV series (and would-be series) projects of some big screen stars who hoped to revive their careers on the small screen with, in most cases, little success. The stars include Claudette Colbert, George Sanders, Peter Lorre, Zachary Scott, Joan Crawford, Alan Ladd, Orson Welles and Bette Davis. One of Davis’  failed TV projects in the 1950s was a proposed series entitled Morgan & McBride, written by Fay Kanin and produced by Jack Webb, that would have cast Davis as a lawyer with a younger partner played by William Shatner. It’s a tragedy that it was never shot for the camp value alone. The concept was tried again with Greer Garson & Peter Falk as the leads, and was ultimately shot in 1972 with Susan Hayward (also profiled in the book) and James Stacy. This is a marvelous little book (only 223 pages but it feels like its packed with 500 pages of information) that I strongly recommend. I can’t say the same for the next book…

Mad About Mysteries: 100 Wonderful Television Mysteries from the Seventies by Donna Marie Nowak (Bear Manor Media)  “Mad about Mystery” is an appropriate title for this very strange book… the random musings of a mystery fan about mystery television in the seventies mixed in with a few interviews and drawings (yes, drawings). There is no real organizing principle beyond her love of 70s mystery television (though she stretches “mystery” pretty broadly to include a lot of other stuff, like Scooby Doo, Salem’s Lot, and Satan’s School for Girls). The introduction by Stefanie Powers isn’t an introduction at all, but rather a rambling, informative Q&A about the actress and her involvement in Hart to Hart, among other shows. As for the rest of the book, the author has selected some “mystery” TV movies and series that I suppose she feels represented the genre in the decade, then offers her personal review and synopsis of each one, along with some bits of information that are well-known (and, in some cases, inaccurate. For example, she mentions that the TV movie Dear Detective starring Brenda Vaccaro was an unsold pilot for a series that never happened…but she’s wrong, there was a series, something a simple Google search would have revealed in a less than 2 seconds). Her list of mystery movies & TV series includes horror, animation and Wonder Woman, so her criteria for inclusion is a real head-scratcher. But she knows the programs well and her reviews are knowledgeable, though they don’t offer any fresh insights, information or trivia. By far the best part of the book, and the only real reason to read it, is her section of informative Q&A interviews with actors, writers, and stunt men of the era (from which the Powers interview was presumably pulled and moved to the front of the book for the “introduction”). The interviews with Sharon Farrell, Diana Muldaur, Tom Sawyer and Peter S. Fischer are especially interesting (though the Q&A’s with Sawyer and Fischer rely too much on excerpts from *their* books…especially for me, since I read both of their books). The author would have been better served scrapping her “reviews” of 70s TV movies and series and focusing instead on more interviews.

 

The Mail I Get – Grab Bag Edition

From the grab bag…here’s a bunch of recent mail that I’ve received and my replies:

I’d like you to adapt my unpublished novel XYZ for the screen or perhaps a TV series. It could also be multiple movies. It’s about XYZ. In the alternative, I hope you will refer me to a producer who might be interested.

I replied: I’m not interested in adapting your book and I can’t think of any screenwriter or producer who would be. Studios don’t buy ideas. They buy the execution of ideas (i.e. who is writing it, who is directing it, who is producing it etc). And they don’t buy books that aren’t huge bestsellers. Since you aren’t a brand-name author, or a first-time author with a bestselling book, there’s almost no chance in hell of anybody reading it or buying it. I don’t say that to be mean, but to give you a realistic view of your chances. Your best bet is to get the book published and hope it does well enough critically or commercially to attract Hollywood interest.

Here’s a question I got about MONK:

 I’m a teenager who has become a HUGE fan of Monk just 8 years too late!!  I grew up watching the show with my Dad. Not so long ago, I discovered that there was a BOOK SERIES. My heart quite literally jumped out of my chest!!  THE CHARACTERS WEREN’T DONE!! Over the next 2 days I went to the library and checked out 10 Monk books, and I can’t stop reading them!!  THEY ARE SO GOOD!! About 2-3 times every book I get teary-eyed because the characters you’ve described in the books are so heart-wrenching.  Why did you write the series from Natalie’s perspective?

If my “detecting skills” tell me anything, you probably chose to write the series from her perspective because the television series is already told form Monk’s perspective.  We get the chance to understand him thoroughly, so it only makes sense to write from the perspective of the closest person to him… literally of course.  

I replied: I wrote them from Natalie’s perspective because I think it humanizes Monk. It gives us a necessary distance and, at the same time, a perspective to frame what we’re seeing. In a way, Natalie’s eyes become the replacement for the TV screen that was between us and Adrian Monk. Also, a little Monk goes a long way. You can overdo the joke and all the obsessive/compulsive stuff. By telling the stories from Natalie’s point of view, we aren’t with him all the time. We get some space, a breather from his shtick, and I think that’s important. It’s also a conscious homage to Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe, who were seen as well through the eyes of their assistants.

And, finally, here’s a question I got about screenwriting:

I stumbled across your post Diagnosis Murder & How to Plot a Mystery, while looking for information on adapting a low-budget, niche, middle grade, mystery book series into a TV script of what seems to be 22-25 pages for a 30 minute show? I found a good article on sitcoms, but not a good breakdown for a kids’ mystery series. Is there any chance you can direct me to a script/page-timing outline? Or any information on this specifically?

I replied: No offense intended, but if you are asking about script page/timing, that suggests to me you still have a lot to learn about the principles of screenwriting. There is far more involved than knowing whether a page of script translates to a minute or five minutes of action (it depends whether its a one camera or three camera show and what is on the page — how many locations/sets there are, what action is involved, and how fast characters speak. Page count is not the issue you should be concerned with. There are “hour long” shows with 45 page scripts and 69 page scripts — every series is different). I recommend Richard Walter’s ESSENTIALS OF SCREENWRITING, Pamela Douglas WRITING THE TV DRAMA SERIES, William Rabkin’s  terrific WRITING THE PILOT, Alex Epstein’s CRAFTY TV WRITING, and SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING by William Rabkin and yours truly.

She wrote back:

Thank you very much for your quick response. I know very little about television scripts. But will get the books you mentioned.