The Words on the Page

The Affair

February 14, 2017

The Affair

Written by Sarah Treem, created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi

Network Draft - August 2013

Drama, 68 pages

 

"Do you remember the first time you saw her?" - Voice

 

Other than the previews that aired during Homeland and the fact that it is told from multiple perspectives, I am not at all familiar with The Affair so, this time, I went into the pilot script without any expectations. Honestly, I was somewhat concerned about "seeing" the same story twice, but it ended up being one of the most fascinating aspects of the script. 

 

There's an old saying that there are three versions of every story - his, hers, and the truth - and this was exemplified in The Affair. Both Noah and Allison showcased themselves as the hero and the victim; in their version, each was the one who saved Stacey and each was the one who was seduced. I'm curious if the show ever tells the "truth" or if the impossibility of knowing an exact truth is an ongoing theme. I'd guess the latter.

 

The most important thing I learned from this read has to do with editing. In my MFA program, and on all of the FAQs and advice documents discussing the major script competitions, constant warnings are given about typos. I've definitely been warned that they can deter a reader from looking at your script and can lead to it instantly getting tossed in the "no" pile, so I am hyper aware of them. This script wasn't perfect. Starting on the first page, there were errors - some typos, some grammatical. But this was a Showtime pilot so I pushed through, and I'm glad that I did.The story took off and, after the fifth page, I barely noticed the typos. Sure, eliminating typos adds to the fluidity of the read, but if a story is truly compelling, it will still shine through -- assuming, of course, the reader gives it a chance.

 

The piece had a nice hook at the end and definitely left me curious as to what happened next. With the (spoiler alert?) specter of dead children hanging over the series, introducing a previously unmentioned alive one brought up a lot of questions -- and the promise of a lot of twists and turns. It left me wanting more which, I think, is a mark of a successful pilot. 

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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