Is there a way to have multiple alternative variants of a scene (alternative dialogue, shorter scene, etc.) in a spec script that, for example let's say the writers room of a tv show, would agree on one of them before turning it into a shooting script? If that's possible, how would one properly format/denote that?
Is there a way to have multiple alternative variants of a scene (alternative dialogue, shorter scene, etc.) in a spec script
Variations are formatted in separate scripts with cover letters describing the edits.
(Unless instructed otherwise)
The structure of a writer's room suggests an external 'spec script' would be very unlikely.
Lowest rank is a Staff Writer who is a jr member of the writing room hired to pitch ideas and help create the foundations of the script (treatments, outlines, dialog), but generally not the script itself.
A scene would normally be written by a Story Editor who is coordinating with a Producer for continuity across the show.
Approval of these alternative scenes is probably the Supervising Producer (if not the Showrunner) who is shepherding the individual episode through production.
After approval, the script would be re-worked by the Story Editor for general continuity and pre-production.
The script may be re-written again during production by the Showrunner or Executive Producers.
Scripts are dynamic production documents that are often updated. Writer's Assistants would handle proofreading and formatting, so they adhere to the production's standards.
I don't believe so, I have books on the accepted format for spec scripts and they don't include any such thing.
The spec script will almost certainly be read by a professional reader, or an agent, that reads scripts most of the day.
The supply of spec scripts far, far exceed the demand for them, so these people can be tough judges, and have to reject over 95% of what they read to get to something worth reading; which may be rejected for story problems anyway.
With that rejecting rate and fresh new pile of scripts to read every day, they will reject on the slightest provocation. Bad margins or spacing, scene descriptions too long (should be rarely more than 3 lines), the script too long or too short, overly verbose or flat dialogue, etc.
From a reader, I know many scripts are tossed before getting to the third page. They will page through it first, looking for problems, and a reason to reject, just driven by efficiency.
They will check the final page count; if it is too much out of line with the industry standards for that type of script, they will reject it. If they see typos on every page, they will reject it.
Your "choose your own adventure" proposal is going to inflate your page count, it will be jarring to the reader (if they get that far), and they will reject it.
Form and format are critical, a very low bar to pass that half the submitted scripts fail within five or ten minutes.
Scripts from well-known scriptwriters get more deference, but unknown writers do not get any courtesy; and probably no explanation. This is a mining operation, looking through the mud for gems.
The studios release only hundreds of movies a year, but receive tens of thousands of spec scripts. We are fighting 99:1 odds.
Including "alternative scenes" would not help. Take the scene with the most emotional impact and go with it. Stay within your page limit, give or take 5 pages. You cannot be indecisive.
Your judges are professionals, they know very well if they can shorten scenes, or lengthen them to fit, and it is typically easier to lengthen a scene than to shorten it.
So short and efficient is better, but do not sacrifice the emotion and timing that will capture the audience's imagination and immersion. It is a tricky balance, but lean toward shorter scenes and getting rid of unnecessary embellishment or micro-management.