Happy 6th Anniversary to MY BLANK PAGE!

December 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

anniversary-blog-photo-edited-copy I can’t believe it’s December again and my six-year anniversary for this blog. Time sure flies as we’re busy filling our blank pages, right? Yes, it’s my SIXTH ANNIVERSARY and it’s been another solid year of readership and with over 20,000 views of the blog. I want to thank all of my loyal readers for a fantastic sixth year on the net. I hope my articles helped with your survival in the trenches of Hollywood as a working screenwriter. As you know, screenwriting is a long haul journey to reach any level of success, but when you know other writers are out here slugging away, fighting the good fight, and being successful, it can give you hope and strength to fill yet another blank page as you follow your dreams.

I hope 2016 has been a productive year on your screenwriting journey. I’ve been blessed to keep busy with two more screenwriting assignment jobs (my 14th & 15th gigs), I completed my 30th feature length screenplay on my journey, I co-created, produced and co-wrote a TV talk show pilot that will be out to the networks in early 2017, my latest thriller MOMMY’S LITTLE GIRL premiered on Lifetime Network in the spring to their highest ratings in over a year (1,825,000 viewers for the premiere), and I just completed a script doctor job on a film that begins production this weekend. A fitting way to end a great year.

book-illustrationI’m also wrapping up the final touches on my new book, A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success, set to be released this month on Amazon. Keep checking back on the blog or my Twitter account for a solid release date. The book has been a long haul journey and shares my twenty years of experiences in Hollywood’s trenches with advice about forging a career.

If you haven’t yet, check out my screenwriting YOUTUBE CHANNEL where I post weekly script videos with my tips, tricks and tactics to help you survive in Hollywood’s trenches. I have twenty seven videos uploaded to help with your screenwriting survival in the trenches. checklistI also provide on-demand webinars from my Pivotshare Channel to help you reach your screenwriting goals.The webinars make great holiday gifts for the aspiring screenwriter in your life. And as you complete your latest magnum opus, if you find yourself in need of professional screenplay consultation, check out my screenplay consultation services. I’m offering a holiday gift of $25.00 off my regular consultation package until December 31st. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay.

salvador-dali-by-willy-rizzo-1As the year winds down, take some time to reflect on your experiences — celebrate your successes, analyze your mistakes and failures, and adapt to find new strategies that can move you and your projects forward down the paying field. Always set realistic goals and do whatever you need to go after them with passion. Remember, it’s later than you think, and life passes quickly while you attempt great things with your screenwriting career.

My sincere thanks for your support of this blog. Remember to always respect the craft, keep the faith, write from a passion for the work and not seeking fame and fortune, and remember—if you stop writing, you’re guaranteed to never have a shot at any success.

See you on Twitter/Periscope and the big and small screen.

All my best screenwriting wishes for 2017.

Copyright 2016 by Mark Sanderson on MY BLANK PAGE blog.

Scriptcat out!

Don’t miss my new thriller MOMMY’S LITTLE GIRL (aka Mommy’s Little Murderer) when it re-airs on LMN, Wednesday, December 7 at 8 PM. Click on the poster below for the link to the movie trailer.

mommys-new-poster

“… a basic “must” for every writer: A simple solitude—physical & mental.”—Rod Serling

“Being an artist means not having to avert one’s eyes.”—Akira Kurosawa

“Hollywood is Hollywood. There’s nothing you can say about it that isn’t true, good or bad. And if you get into it, you have no right to be bitter—you’re the one who sat down, and joined the game.” —Orson Welles

Stephen King with advice from his old newspaper editor John Gould: “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

“Don’t think of it as art, think of it as work.”—Paddy Chayefsky

Hemingway said it best, I still believe, though, that it is very bad for a writer to talk about how he writes. He writes to be read by the eye and no explanations or dissertations should be necessary. You can be sure that there is much more there than will be read at any first reading and having made this it is not the writer’s province to explain it or to run guided tours through the more difficult country of his work.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”—Pablo Picasso

“I never feel the need to discuss my work with anyone. No, I am too busy writing it. It has got to please me and if it does I don’t need to talk about it. If it doesn’t please me, talking about it won’t improve it, since the only thing to improve it is to work on it some more. I am not a literary man but only a writer. I don’t get any pleasure from talking shop.”—William Faulkner

Communiqué from the screenwriting trenches: The invaluable opportunity of script doctor work…

November 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

script revision photo copyIf you are lucky enough to establish a screenwriting career and build a professional reputation, other opportunities may come from “script doctor” work. This job includes being hired to come onto a project and do the necessary rewrites to push it through development. Most of the time the previous screenwriter  either had another commitment and could not continue on the project, or the screenwriter was “written out” and couldn’t execute the notes as requested. I’ve been hired to do this type of rewrite work three times before and it’s an invaluable opportunity to work with producers and directors. It also helps to build your solid reputation as someone they can go to help

I just signed last week for another script doctor job, my second with a production company that hired me last year to do the same thing. This new job came my way because of my solid working relationship with the company and the producer. They trust me to deliver the goods on time because I’ve proven myself to them before. The film goes into production in three weeks, so I have to be available to turn around the rewrites quickly. The scheduling was perfect because I have a break from a script assignment job and will be returning to that almost when this new film starts production.

It took me six days to execute the notes for my first rewrite. I just completed the next pass and that only took me two days. I’ll be working on any and all changes up until production begins. Many times these rewrite jobs don’t offer credit or shared credit, but that’s okay. The real importance is that the producer and director know that I was able to help them to execute the changes necessary to start the film as scheduled.

The rewrite jobs really offer an invaluable working experience to deconstruct a screenplay and put in new elements to make it work. It also gives you experience on working through the pre-production process and what changes a screenplay needs to go through. It’s also helpful that I’m completely detached because it’s not my screenplay. What doesn’t work has to be changed for the benefit of the overall project. I’m also facilitating the producer and director’s notes. At this point, it is all about making the script production ready.

This is why it’s extremely important to learn how to execute screenplay notes properly. No writer enjoys being rewritten, but the harsh realities of the business dictate when the writer is unable to deliver, producers go with a writer who can adequately make the changes necessary to push the project along toward production. You eventually want to be the “go to” person who they will hire on a regular basis.

This latest job continues my solid working relationship with the production company and allows me to pitch my own ideas and present story treatments to them. If you want steady work, it’s vital to build your professional reputation with producers and directors. According to the Scoggins Report, in 2015 only 93 specs sold and as of September of this year only 47 specs have sold, so you won’t be selling specs your entire career. A spec will open the door for assignment work and possibly rewrite jobs too. As they say, work begets work and it’s absolutely true. There are plenty of hungry screenwriters out there competing for fewer jobs, so if you can land any screenwriting job consider yourself blessed.

The only guarantee is that if you stop writing you’ll never have any shot at success.

Scriptcat out!

Copyright 2016, by Mark Sanderson on My Blank Page.

Don’t miss my Lifetime Movie Network double feature starting this week!

lmn-double-feature

Did you just complete your latest screenplay or new draft? Do you need in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website. You never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay. Make the time to get it right.

Screenplay consultation services

Need help reaching your screenwriting goals? Check out my on-demand webinars. Click on the photo below for the link to the website.

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“Believe me that in every big thing or achievement there are obstacles — big or small — and the reaction one shows to such an obstacle is what counts not the obstacle itself.”—Bruce Lee

“… a basic “must” for every writer: A simple solitude—physical & mental.”—Rod Serling

“Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.”—Ray Bradbury

“Writing is survival. Any art, any good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die. We must take arms each and every day, perhaps knowing that the battle cannot be entirely won, but fight we must, if only a gentle bout.”—Ray Bradbury

“Don’t focus on where you’re not (famous or A-list writer)—focus on where you’re at—hopefully screenwriting. Regardless of success or experience, we’re all equals in front of that blank page channeling the muse.”—Scriptcat

 

A screenwriting journey is a marathon, so enjoy the little successes along the way…

November 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

megaphoneSometimes it takes years for the big successes to happen. During the in-between times, when you’re working hard toward your next goal, you might doubt your talent and even question if you’ll ever work again. The early failures may force you to ask, “What if my latest spec doesn’t sell?” Maybe the well has run dry for you? What if you don’t find a screenwriting job? What if you can’t find an agent or manager? What if you receive horrible feedback and they hate your screenplay? Oh, the myriad of questions that can fuel your insecurity and fear if you allow it. Sometimes, the only nourishment we have in this barren wasteland of screenwriting is our faith and the anchor of the small achievement. No matter how small. Maybe you finished your script? That’s a major achievement. Maybe you finally got a producer to give it a read? That’s another successful achievement. The ingredients of a big success are usually a range of small successes all leading up to that sale or screenwriting job that jump starts a “career.”

It’s the little successes that keep us going through the rough times. I know for me personally, what gets me through is seeing results from my forward movement—and creating new material. Every screenplay opens up new opportunities. Always be moving forward, even if it’s a few steps at a time. Sure, you’ll stumble and experience failure during your journey, but avoid falling into the self-doubt pit where the darkness of fear overshadows your burning desire to make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

thOn your journey, make sure to take rejection lightly. We all suffer disappointment, but when you can accept rejection as part of the process, you can better adjust your temperament and not take the criticism personally. There’s a myriad of reasons why a producer might reject your project, but they could still like your writing. Selling a project is great, but if it doesn’t sell your writing ability can also land you a job. Think positively and train yourself to avoid the negative thoughts about your self-worth and talent. The more you think negatively, the more it becomes an emotion — and then it’s hard to separate the two. You can actually start to believe a reality that isn’t true.

Many times, it’s not always about the sale or the immediate final result. A rejection can actually be an open door and maybe it’s a “pass” now, but they like your writing and want to see more. What seemed like a failure was really a success, because you started a new relationship with a producer or executive whose door is now open to you. This is why you should always be working on your next project. Building these relationships is the key to a successful career as a working screenwriter, so don’t get depressed when your script doesn’t sell the first time out. You’ll probably have to write ten screenplays before you sell your first one.

Back in the day before I was a working screenwriter, I entered my script in the prestigious Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship with the hopes of winning one of the year-long fellowships. My script was not one of the nine finalists, but was a semi-finalist script, placing in the top 1% of all entries, and it ended up in the top twenty scripts overall out of thousands entered worldwide. They picked the top nine writers for the fellowship that year. I could have looked upon my placement as a complete failure, but I used my script’s advanced placement as a successful step forward and was able to get producers to read it because of my achievement. I eventually found a producer who saw my script’s potential, his company bought my script, produced it into a motion picture that premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, premiered on cable TV in the US, and distributed worldwide. It was a dream come true.

You can spend years working on many projects and with the right timing and project, you could get paid to write a few and some will actually be produced. It’s not going to be easy on the long haul marathon that it will take to get anything produced. More often, many projects never get produced and they become writing samples that might get you work in the future. There’s a myriad of different scenarios where the result is out of your control. So, if you’re slogging away in the trenches anyway, fighting the good fight, why not celebrate the little successes along the way?

It won’t always be a slam-dunk, but if you’re in the game and working toward your goal, you’ll get through the rough times by cherishing the little successes. A career is built on the positive steps forward, not the pursuit of one big sale. It does happen for a select and lucky few, but the more realistic journey is one built from a long series of seemingly tiny successes.

On your road to being a working screenwriter, any forward position that you’re able to hold is a triumph. Never lose ground by falling into the pit of self-doubt with debilitating fear. Stay hungry, humble, and face the challenges straight on because there’s no way around them, only through them. Once you’ve overcome the next challenge, hold that new position and use it to regroup and push even farther down the road. It’s similar to a battle and you’ll stand a better chance at survival over the long haul if you take time to celebrate the hard-earned successes —no matter how small they seem. Also, don’t focus on where you’re NOT — (famous or A-list)— focus on where you’re AT—hopefully screenwriting. Regardless of experience or success, as screenwriters we’re all equals in front of a blank page channeling the muse.

Keep filling your blank pages and keep the faith because if you stop writing you’ll never have any shot at success.

Scriptcat out!

Copyright 2016 by Mark Sanderson on blog My Blank Page.

Check out my YOUTUBE CHANNEL with weekly video script tips from the trenches.

Did you just complete your new screenplay and need in-depth consultation? Check out my screenplay consultation services. Click on the icon below for the link to my website for more information.  You never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay.

Screenplay consultation services

Do you need help with your screenwriting goals? Let my on-demand webinars help. Click on the icon below for the link to my website.

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“Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”~ Albert Schweitzer

“Believe me that in every big thing or achievement there are obstacles — big or small — and the reaction one shows to such an obstacle is what counts not the obstacle itself.”—Bruce Lee

“Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.”—Ray Bradbury

“Writing is survival. Any art, any good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die. We must take arms each and every day, perhaps knowing that the battle cannot be entirely won, but fight we must, if only a gentle bout.”—Ray Bradbury

fd

 

The importance of your first draft…

October 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

fade inI remember my first feature-length screenplay. I got lost somewhere in the barren wasteland of ACT 2 and felt like I would never reach the end. Now, thirty screenplays later, I have a better grasp on the process, but it’s always a new and different experience every time you type FADE IN. I respect this fact. Early on in my journey, I thought it would be screenwriting would be an easy experience, and I was humbled every time by the enormity of the craft.

Do not fool yourself into thinking your first draft has to be shit. It’s just the opposite—your first draft is extremely important because the DNA of your story and characters lives in this precious first pass. I love this quote from six time Academy Award nominee screenwriter Ernest Lehman (Sabrina, Sweet Smell of Success, North by Northwest, The Sound of Music, Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf?):

“Good screenwriting is about carpentry. It’s a juggling of beginnings, middles and endings so they all inevitably seem to be moving correctly together. Your first draft is dangerously important. Don’t ever kid yourself into thinking, “It’s okay, it’s just the first draft.”  Beware of that thought, because it’s ten times more difficult to go in a certain direction once you’ve gone in another direction.”—Ernest Lehman

It’s true. I know from experience that it’s difficult to totally rewrite a first draft from page one into something new. Sadly, too many times it ends up becoming a jumbled mess as the foundation of the story is being altered underneath the story. My advice is to make your first draft your best possible work at the time. When writing it, act as if you’ll never get another chance to touch the screenplay. You should use your specs as training to turn out a superb first draft to prepare you for the day when you’re hired on assignment. This pays off in many ways, most importantly when you’re working for a producer and your solid first draft secures the interest of investors, a director, and actors. A solid first draft will also keep you on the assignment and not replaced by another screenwriter.

praise or blameMake sure your screenplay suffers the fewest amount of changes during the development process. Trust me, you don’t want your script to get bogged down in development hell. It’s hard to climb out of that pit and too many times projects die a tragic death from too many drafts over a long period of time.

I’m not suggesting that you agonize over every word, but treat your first draft with the seriousness it deserves. A solid first draft will help with faster rewrites because you’re not reinventing story lines, but you’re doing a “clean up” job. You want to avoid situations where your first draft is shit and you have to do a page one rewrite instead of a clean up. When you start working on paid screenwriting assignments, you will not have the luxury of turning in a crappy first draft. The producer or executive will expect the best possible draft that matches the accepted story treatment. Anything less will endanger your chances of getting a chance at draft two and staying on the project through production.

Avoid a “vomit” draft because you can use that precious time to work it into something excellent. Why not? A sold first draft also helps lessen massive rewrites on the successive drafts. Good luck and keep screenwriting.

Scriptcat out!

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Sanderson 10.24.2016 on My Blank Page blog at http://www.scriptcat.wordress.com

And speaking of first drafts… before you go… if you just completed a new screenplay and need in-depth consultation, check out my screenplay consultation services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website.

Screenplay consultation services

Are you having trouble focusing on your screenwriting goals? Maybe my on-demand webinars can help with a checklist. Click on the icon below for the link to buy or rent my webinars for only $9.99 each.

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“Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized.”—Rod Serling.

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible adventures.”—Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”—Joseph Campbell

 

“Screenwriting is such a very special branch of literature. In some ways, it’s closer to the poetic form than it is to the dramatic. A lot of writers think that they write down to an audience if they do a motion-picture script.”—John Huston

“When I first meet with the scriptwriter, I ask him what is the story about—what do you see—what was your intention?”—Sidney Lumet

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – wholeheartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” — Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing, 1916

“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.”—Rudyard Kipling, “If”

Five honest questions screenwriters must answer about their screenwriting…

October 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

script revision photo copyIf your passion drives you to embark on this crazy marathon of a screenwriting career, you’ll need to prepare for survival in Hollywood’s trenches. Talent is important, but so is your professional code and ability to endure criticism, rejection and failure over the long haul. The odds may be stacked against you, but the way to standout in this very competitive business is to create a solid body of work and build a reputation as a team player and collaborator. The rest is just luck—a prepared screenwriter who meets with an opportunity and delivers the goods.

Here are five honest questions about the craft of screenwriting that aspiring screenwriters must answer before they jump in and pursue a career… and here we go..

  • Have you mastered screenplay format?  I find many aspiring writers have a serious lack of knowledge or respect about screenplay format.  It’s what separates the professional from the amateur. Producers, directors, and executives will immediately recognize that if you didn’t have enough respect for your craft to know proper format, you’re not a professional. I’ve seen too many times screenwriters being rejected after writing a spec because it was rushed and not well-written. Some screenwriters will stubbornly believe that their screenplay will sell just off the idea alone and they don’t have to do the hard work. In reality, good ideas are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, it’s the execution of an effective screenplay that counts.

 

  •  Are you overwriting your screenplay?  I’ve read too many scripts that are micro managed and result in a bloated screenplay. Do you describe the wallpaper and give directions to the actors like: “He sighs, shrugs his shoulders, rolls his eyes, smiles and turns?” Many new screenwriters feel the need to micromanage every scene. Stop doing this. Producers and executives hate to read—funny in a business where the script is so important, but they like to see a lot of “white” on the page.  This means the fewer words the better and it’s the job of the screenwriter to stay the hell out-of-the-way of the story. You are here to service the story not the other way around.

 

  • Do you respect story and screenplay structure?  I find some beginning writers have a lack of respect for the treatment/step outline/beat sheet and how it related to the screenplay structure. This arrogance will get you into trouble when you end up in barren wasteland of Act 2, and you become lost on page sixty, or with a hundred and fifty-page script with no idea where to cut. Your screenplay dies from 1,000 little format, story and structure issues. It’s all about the attention to the little details. I can start reading a script and by the first page know it’s from an amateur. The producers and executives will notice too.

 

  • Have you accepted this fact:  Screenwriting is all about execution and rewriting? Hollywood is full of good ideas and the winning formula is: good idea + execution of good idea = amazing viable screenplay. It all comes down to being able to execute a good idea into an even better script. Many beginning writers believe their first draft is perfect and needs no rewrites.  Reality check ahead. After I read someone’s magnum opus and they tell me it took six months to write it without a treatment or even a step outline, I grimace and realize they just don’t understand the process. A reader or producer will stop reading and become frustrated after the first few pages. Detach from the material and it will be much easier to cut it to the bone. When they do give you suggestions and notes do not bristle and defend every word. You’ll be branded as “difficult” and you’ll find it hard to work if you can’t shake that reputation. Rewrites will be a huge part of your screenwriting journey.

 

  • Are you willing to give the time necessary to create a viable body of work? We all want overnight success with the least amount of effort, right? A screenwriting career is as easy as falling out of bed in the morning into a three picture deal. Wrong. It can take years and a half-dozen screenplays to achieve any level of success as a working screenwriter—or maybe never. You’ll need time to fail and write badly so you can get on to doing your best work. You need to think of your career as your life’s journey and continually learn, study, and work at becoming a better screenwriter. You want to become a master of your craft at the top of your game. This is the level of performance necessary to compete in a very crowded marketplace where no one really gives a shit about your precious screenplay. There are 30,000 – 50,000 scripts/ideas/pitches fighting to sell every year before yours does.

 

Format starts with your cover page. It’s the little details that will show if you know what you are doing or not. If any of these hard and fast rules are not followed, your script will likely have a much harder time getting through the pipeline and will end up as a doorstop, or in the recycling bin without a read. This will close doors, harm your reputation and your project. You never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay. Make the time to do your best work and don’t unleash the script before it’s ready.

Scriptcat out!

This article is written and published by Mark Sanderson on MY BLANK PAGE blog.

BEFORE YOU GO… CHECK OUT MY SERVICES BELOW…

Did you just finish your latest screenplay or draft? Is it time for in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the icon below for the link to my website.

Screenplay consultation services

Need help focusing on your screenwriting goals? My on-demand webinars can help with a screenwriter’s checklist. Click on the icon below for the link to my website.

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It’s a funny thing about life if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”—W. Somerset Maugham

“Do it for joy and you can do it forever” ―Stephen King

The professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He recognizes the contributions of those who have gone before him. He apprentices himself to them.” —Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art” “.

.. The payoff of playing-the-game-for-money is not the money (which you may never see anyway, even after you turn pro). The payoff is that playing the game for money produces the proper professional attitude. It inculcates the lunch-pail mentality, the hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind that shows up for work despite rain or snow or dark of night and slugs it out day after day.” — Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”

This is, if not a lifetime process, it’s awfully close to it. The writer broadens, becomes deeper, becomes more observant, becomes more tempered, becomes much wiser over a period time passing. It is not something that is injected into him by a needle. It is not something that comes on a wave of flashing, explosive light one night and say, ‘Huzzah! Eureka! I’ve got it!’ and then proceeds to write the great American novel in eleven days. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a long, tedious, tough, frustrating process, but never, ever be put aside by the fact that it’s hard.”—Rod Serling

FADE OUT. THE END. What’s next?

October 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Completing your screenplayThese are perhaps the most anticipated words a screenwriter can ever type: FADE OUT – THE END. If you’ve completed your latest screenplay or draft, my sincere congratulations! There is no better feeling when you finish months or years of hard work. You want to shout from the rooftops that you finished and hand the script out to everyone who ever said they would read it. Okay, take a deep breath, and pause a moment before you unleash it upon Hollywood. Never allow anyone to read the script before it’s ready.

If you have a producer wanting to read your script but it’s not ready—do not send it. It’s far better to wait until it’s your best work. If you distribute a screenplay riddled with problems, your open doors will close because you will have wasted your contact’s precious time with a substandard product. This will harm your reputation as a professional and may kill the project. If you consider approximately 30,000 to 40,000 scripts/treatments/pitches/loglines and registered with the Writers Guild yearly, and only 47 specs have sold as of September of this year, the competition has never been greater. It’s tough even for professional writers. The recent WGA annual report lists only 5,159 writers reporting income from TV, feature films, news, and interactive writing.

script revision photo copyAfter you finish a first draft, a new journey begins as you travel down the road of notes, criticism, and rewrites. Embrace the experience because it’s all part of the long haul screenwriting journey. Realize that good isn’t good enough—you have to be an excellent screenwriter to compete in a competitive marketplace. You may start with a fantastic premise, but if you haven’t executed a kick ass screenplay that lives up to its full potential—it will fail. Never forget that even with an amazing script, there are no guarantees. Hollywood doesn’t have to love it.

Many times, what you don’t know can hurt you—and your project. If your script is riddled with typos, format issues, and story problems, Hollywood professionals will immediately reject your screenplay.  Remember, you get one shot to dazzle them with your talent. Make sure your screenplay is ready to compete and is the your best work possible.

Keep screenwriting and following your dreams. If you stop writing, you’re guaranteed never to have any shot at success.

Scriptcat out!

This article was written and published by Mark Sanderson on the My Blank Page blog.

BEFORE YOU GO… CHECK OUT MY SERVICES BELOW…

If it’s time for a second opinion on your latest screenplay, consider my screenplay consultation services with notes and a full edit. Click on the blue icon below for the link to my website and a free gift if you contact me.

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Do you need help organizing your screenwriting goals? Let my on-demand webinars help with specific disciplines that could put your plans into action. $9.99 each. Click on the icon below for the link to the website for more information.

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“When the last dime is gone, I’ll sit on the curb outside with a pencil and a ten cent notebook and start the whole thing over again.” — Preston Sturges

“With the door shut, downloading what’s in my head directly to the page, I write as fast as I can and still remain comfortable. Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job. It’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There is plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. If I write rapidly, putting down my story exactly as it comes into my mind, only looking back to check the names of my characters and the relevant parts of their back stories, I find that I can keep up with my original enthusiasm and at the same time outrun the self-doubt that’s always waiting to settle in.”—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it. And as long as they don not understand it you are ahead of them. Oh sure, I thought, I’m so far ahead of them now that I can’t afford to eat regularly. It would not be bad if they caught up a little.” —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, page 75.

“Then our writers when they have made some money increase their standard of living and they are caught. They have to write to keep up their establishments, their wives, and so on, and they write slop. It is slop not on purpose but because it is hurried. Because they write when there is nothing to say or no water in the well. Because they are ambitious. Then, once they have betrayed themselves, they justify it and you get more slop.”—Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa, page 23.

 

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Scriptcat’s screenwriting advice: Three more tips to help navigate Hollywood’s trenches…

October 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

pile-of-scripts-copyAs the year winds down, I hope you’ve created a solid body of work that created opportunities to push your screenplays closer to success. Trust me, I know if can feel like you’re banging your head against a wall hoping for a breakthrough, but finding the same results of rejection and criticism. I truly hope you’re busy creating a solid body of work and forging ahead on your screenwriting journey. I hope that I’ve been able to offer a few nuggets of advice that you’ve found helpful. If you’re stuck and need an objective eye on your latest screenplay, I offer screenplay consultation services thorugh my website and offer tips on Twitter (@scriptcat) and my Youtube Channel.

Dig in, as I’ve written 200 articles on this blog and if you like what you’re reading—sign up in the right column to receive blog posts via e-mail and new offers. I’m also broadcasting live on the new app PERISCOPE. Check it out. Also my new book, A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success is going to be published next month on Amazon. Thanks for reading and as always: Carry on, keep the faith and keep screenwriting. Okay, let’s cut to the chase and get right to the action—here are a few more useful survival tips for your journey…

TIP #1 

ESTABLISH AND BUILD YOUR REPUTATION AS A SCREENWRITER DAILY

reading guyYou must understand that everyone’s opinion about working with you matters. If you garner a reputation as being “difficult,” producers and others will choose not work with you again. Hollywood is all about working relationships and time is too precious and a lot of money is at stake on a project to deal with hassles. There are just too many other capable writers out there who are not divas and can get the job done. This is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned on my nearly twenty year professional journey as a screenwriter—a solid reputation is vital to establishing a professional career.  Hollywood is a business of relationships and networking. People generally like to work with those people they’ve had a positive experience with in the past and who they can trust to deliver the work.

TIP # 2    

ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR TIME – IT’S YOUR GREATEST ASSET OR WORST ENEMY

time warp in HollywoodThe  best discipline you can master early in you screenwriting journey is being mindful of time.  As writers we must regard our writing time as precious and do everything in our power to protect our working time from the forces of interruption and procrastination.  When we are writing we are “on the clock” and working as you would at any job. I know many non-writers who do not regard writing as real work and believe it’s just playtime like coloring with crayons because it’s creative. Ah, they don’t know any better. They’ve never tried to write a feature-length screenplay. We have more things to distract us writers today than ever before, so it helps to turn off your phone and stay off the web.  Choosing the right place to write will also help you to protect your precious writing time.  If you’re constantly interrupted as you write at home, consider working at the library, a coffee shop or even renting a small space to write.  As renting an office can become pricy, many paid workspaces have sprung up where you can buy membership access to a quiet working environment.

TIP # 3

AS YOU NETWORK AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS – PAY IT FORWARD!

handshake cartoonAs you build your solid network of contacts with people who take their precious time to help you—spread your  generosity with those who deserve your time. If someone helps you and you have the chance—pay it forward. Offer help to others and it will eventually come back to you ten fold. If asked, read a contact’s script and offer notes. Help out with a live script reading. Work on a contact’s film production or short movie. Support a contact by attending their film’s screening. Even if you help someone and there is no pay, always do your best work because you leave behind the imprint of your reputation. Show your contacts at every level that you are a talented and generous professional who takes the craft seriously. When you project a professional attitude you will attract like-minded artists.

Keep writing and filling your pages because if you stop—you’re guaranteed to never have any shot at success. This is a business with no guarantees even when you do sell a screenplay.

@Scriptcat out!

Did you just finish your latest script or a new draft? Do you need a second set of eyes for feedback? Check out my screenplay consultation services. Click on the icon below for the link to my website and more information.

Screenplay consultation services

Also subscribe to my new YOUTUBE CHANNEL with weekly screenwriting video tips.

Do you lack focus or haven’t set goals for the year with regards to your career? My on-demand webinars may help. Click on the icon below for the link.

checklist 2

Click the photo for the link to the webinar.

 

“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard. When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.”—Florida State University’s Anders Ericsson

“With the door shut, downloading what’s in my head directly to the page, I write as fast as I can and still remain comfortable. Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job. It’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There is plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. If I write rapidly, putting down my story exactly as it comes into my mind, only looking back to check the names of my characters and the relevant parts of their back stories, I find that I can keep up with my original enthusiasm and at the same time outrun the self-doubt that’s always waiting to settle in.”—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it. And as long as they don not understand it you are ahead of them. Oh sure, I thought, I’m so far ahead of them now that I can’t afford to eat regularly. It would not be bad if they caught up a little.” —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, page 75.

 

 

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