Don’t write shoe leather into your script. Shoe leather is an inside term. It’s what we call moments that are real and true, but they don’t add any entertainment value to your script. Let me give you an example.

If you remember the show, Seinfeld. Jerry lived in a New York City apartment. In New York City, even if you lived in an apartment with security, the door to your apartment would always be locked. You’d have a deadbolt, that would be locked, it’d be chained, right? But for some reason, Jerry rarely had the front door locked. Imagine if it was locked, this is what you would see instead.

Knock, knock, knock. “Who is it?” “It’s me, Kramer. Can I come in?” “Oh, hey, Kramer. Sure, give me a second. I’m in the kitchen, I’m making some cereal. Let me just put the milk away.” Jerry crosses to the refrigerator, he puts the milk away, he shuts the refrigerator door, he crosses to the front door, he unlocks the front door, he opens up the front door and Kramer enters. “Hey, Jerry.” “Hey, Kramer.” See how boring that is? That’s terrible. It’s all shoe leather, cut all of that. Instead, you replace it with Michael Richards just bursting in. And because Michael Richards is a comedic genius, every time he enters, he’s shocked as if he was expecting to be on the surface of Pluto instead of inside Jerry’s apartment. That made it funny, that was all entertainment, just by cutting that shoe leather.

Now, you don’t see a lot of shoe leather on TV or in films. It usually gets cut before it makes it to your screen. Which is why you’re like, “Shoe leather? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But I see a lot of shoe leather in scripts, mainly scripts from new writers. I’ll read that script and I’ll get to the shoe leather… I’ll take a red pen and put an X right through it because that’s all shoe leather. You don’t need it, it doesn’t make it any better.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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