Scriptcat’s 3 tasty screenwriting tips for your journey…

February 13, 2015 § 1 Comment

sullivans-travels-052As you may know, I’ve been adding short posts and sharing various survival tips on the blog in addition to the full articles. This feature offers 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 tips here as part of an ongoing series.  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.” And you get one shot to make a first great impression. Take the time to get it right.

Okay, three more survival tips that may help you on the long marathon on your journey as a screenwriter…

#1 )   As you navigate on this slow climb to success, do not judge yourself as a writer only by an agent or manager’s opinion of your work. 

feedback equals disappointmentI once received feedback back in the day on my script from an agent who held court at a powerful and mighty agency. He actually hated my screenplay—this was a script that placed in the top 1% of the Academy’s prestigious Nicholl Fellowship at the Motion Picture Academy. It was a top 20 script that year in competition and it eventually went on to being produced and distributed worldwide. Who knows the reasoning behind any given feedback? Bad day, fight with wife or girlfriend/boyfriend, bias against the genre or storyline, not interested in the genre, similar film bombed at the box office, who knows? I think we as writers know in our hearts if something we’ve written is good, clear and is authentic writing. Get in touch with writing the truth and scripts that represent your unique voice.

#2 )  As you’re screenwriting, keep the intimate details of your work to yourself.

never believe them untl the check clearsDo not continually talk about the status of your projects, your “writing process,” or how each project is moving forward.  Hollywood has a bizarre time warp that works on its own schedule. Every project will take longer than you ever expected and you don’t need people thinking that you’re blowing smoke when you talk about the status of your material. The truth is that it takes an incredible amount of time for any script to find a home and eventually get produced—if ever. Sometimes the less you say about your progress the better. We all have our own inner voice of self-doubt, but why give fodder to your critics and skeptics who will use it to squash your dreams? They’ll even taint any good news you share and use it to belittle your success because they didn’t have the guts to risk everything to pursue their own dreams. They enjoy raining on your parade instead. Protect your dreams and cut the naysayers out of your life. Keep your work close to the vest until it’s finished.

#3 )   Don’t be a “one-script wonder” and believe that one script will make your career.

spec scriptsBecome a writing workhorse who constantly writes new material because it’s a numbers game at best and you are up against tremendous odds of selling anything. Always have ready a new pitch, synopsis, treatment and script to offer.  Hollywood is a business, and agents and managers size you up to see your career potential. They want you to work and need the material to send into the pipeline. That means you may write five or six scripts before ANYTHING happens that moves you forward in a real and positive way. It wasn’t until my fourth spec screenplay out of college that made some noise for me and it was my fifth spec that received an option and went on to be produced into a film. You also need to be good in a room while pitching your ideas — and you’ll need to execute the notes well and write under the pressure of deadlines. Be a team player and don’t bristle at criticism. This is all part of being a professional screenwriter.  Potential reps will look for these traits because your potential employers will as well. Hollywood is such a fickle business where years can pass between jobs, writers are “hot” and then not, and life can get in the way and derail even the best attempts at a career. Respect the craft and the journey or it will humble you.

Keep on writing and keep the faith— @Scriptcat out!

Subscribe to my new YOUTUBE CHANNEL for weekly screenwriting video tips.

Did you just complete your latest screenplay and need in-depth consultation before you unleash it upon Hollywood? Check out my services by clicking the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information. You get one shot to make a first great impression with your screenplay. Make the time to get it right.

Screenplay consultation services

It is no small feat to get a movie made, on any subject, on any screen.” — JJ Abrams

“Reading, in the showbiz game, is work. Drudgery even—antithetical, I might argue, to why most writers toil. We write to be read. Hopefully enjoyed. Even to later be complimented. But most importantly, we’d like to know that we entertained. That the reader either laughed or was moved to tears or struck by some worthy emotion summoned by the strings of words we’ve chosen.”—screenwriter Doug Richardson.

It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.”—Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary, 5th Century B.C.

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

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

“If a writer stops observing, he is finished.”—Ernest Hemingway


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