FADE OUT. THE END. What’s next?
October 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
These 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.
After 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.
This article was written and published by Mark Sanderson on the My Blank Page blog.
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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.