Scriptcat’s 3 tips for the screenwriting trenches…
May 3, 2014 § 5 Comments
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may know, I’ve decided to change things up a bit here on MY BLANK PAGE and add short posts and share various survival tips. I do speak about these in the various articles on this blog, but this new feature will be a quick reference to glance over and consider as you navigate your screenwriting journey. So, in addition to my tips on Twitter (@scriptcat), I’ll be posting new ones here from time to time. Thanks for reading and as always: Carry on, keep the faith and keep screenwriting!
When I consult on screenplays for screenwriters, I can’t tell you how many issues I repeatedly find that harm the overall screenplay. It will live or die by 1,000 tiny details. I know with a little knowledge and insight on the part of the screenwriter, these issues could be easily cleaned up and push the script to a professional level. It only takes one or two issues that repeatedly appear to make your project go from a “RECOMMEND” to a “PASS.”
Okay, three more survival tips that will help you on the long marathon on your journey as a screenwriter…
Find a genre that you’re passionate about and focus on that type of material. If you have too many projects in different genres, you’ll appear scattered and it will be hard to create your brand. Pigeonholing is not exclusive to actors only, it also happens to screenwriters—and that’s not such a bad thing. You want Hollywood to know you for your unique voice and style in a particular genre. Usually your first script that sells will determine the type of genre you’ll be known for creating. That’s okay, but pick a genre that you really love and stick with it.
Before you take a meeting, research and do your homework about the producer, director, or executive you are going to meet. As I mentioned before, they will respect the fact you took the time and that it was important enough to know what they’ve done. And it will help if you move forward and work with them to know their other projects. I recently worked with a director on a rewrite of a script and before we met I watched his other films in the same genre. Because I was familiar with his other movies, we had shorthand and easily discussed certain shots and sequences from those films that related to our new project. I knew exactly what he was talking about and it helped our working process.
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 and your solid screenplay can also land you a job. Think positively and train yourself to avoid negative, self-worth thoughts. 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.
Keep writing and learning… keep your eye on the bib picture… oh, and never give up!
If you just finished your screenplay and need in-dept consultation check out my services. Click on the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information. You only get one shot to make a first great impression with your screenplay.
“Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizable portion of their childhood spirit despite the pressures and demands of adulthood.”—Robert Greene, “Mastery”
“Your work will be rejected, but don’t allow your skewed perception of failure to open the darkest places of fear and insecurity in your creative soul.”—Scriptcat
“The time we have alone; the time we have in walking; the time we have in riding a bicycle; are the most important times for a writer. Escaping from a typewriter is part of the creative process. You have to give your subconscious time to think. Real thinking always occurs on the subconscious level.”—Ray Bradbury
“The extraordinary fact is 99% of writers fail at the premise. This is the great unknown gatekeeper that keeps most writers from being successful. If you screw up the premise, nothing you do later in the writing process will make any difference. The game’s already over.”—John Truby
“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