Why Second Best Isn’t Good Enough

July 9th, 2012  Posted at   screenwriting, script consulting
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Check out my guest blog post on Julie Gray’s fab site Just Effing Entertain Me!

Guest Blog by Ruth Atkinson!


Ok. I’m all fired up. I recently read a discussion thread on an entertainment blog that made me want to scream. I posted a comment instead. But here I am still fuming. What got me so riled? A writer’s query about how long it takes to write a screenplay who went on to confess they didn’t spend more than two months because, wait for it, once it was optioned, “It was going to be rewritten anyway.”

Say, what?

I can’t tell you how many times new writers have said this to me. And I emphasize NEW writers. Any experienced writer will tell you it takes years to learn the craft of screenwriting to the point where you are able to write a marketable script that will sell in Hollywood. As a new writer not only are the odds stacked against you but the bar is set much higher than for a produced writer. Why? Because you’re untested, have no track record and are competing against 1000 other screenplays that are out there vying for an execs attention. So why would you dare go out there with anything other than your absolute best?

As a new writer your piece not only has to have an incredibly fresh, exciting, original concept it has to be executed flawlessly meaning it has to follow conventional structure (without being formulaic), have distinct characters and a well paced plot that escalates to a meaningful climax and resolution. It also has to be “about” something and have a reason to be told. On top of this if you are a new writer you need to have an original voice (worked for Diablo Cody) in order to get noticed.

I don’t know how you can hit this mark in just a few short months. To forgo rewrites because it will be rewritten anyway is a good way to make sure you will remain unproduced. You only get a handful of chances to get your work read by someone who can move it forward. You want to make sure your screenplay is damn good and ready when it lands on their desk. You may write quickly but a truly well written, marketable screenplay that will stand out from the pack takes time. Get good at your craft, and then get your script out there. Not a moment sooner.

Whew. I feel calmer already. Thanks for listening.


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