Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Some more notes from my own experience in this crazy field.
Aspiring screenwriters get super interested in the business side of the craft. This is, of course, essential to know.
But unless you have an actionable script, it’s all just a fantasy. It’s imaginary problems—sandcastles in the sky.
Many times when I interact with aspiring writers, it feels like they put 95% of their effort into being read—they just take it for granted that yes, of course the script is great.
Folks, it’s probably not! Put 95% of your effort into writing—and rewriting.
I personally hustled reads with subpar material way before I was ready. It set me back and was a rude awakening.
That same website also has a YouTube channel with tons of useful interviews.
But seriously, don’t get worried about the business. You have a real problem: your writing isn’t good enough. Fix that!
Why don’t they respond to your emails? Or why did they ask for a script, then ghost you?
All they really want is something they can sell. They concluded they could not make money off of you, based on your clunky logline. And they were almost certainly right.
The aforementioned Scripts and Scribes tweet compilations will tell you how to query them via email.
However, you are almost certainly not ready for a manager.
Also, beware of “fake managers”—managers who are really just producers looking for free scripts. So many phonies out there!
I recommend reading consistently from three general areas:
1. Actual, produced screenplays that are the top of the art, by Aaron Sorkin, Tony Gilroy, Bill Goldman, Shane Black, James Cameron—the masters. (Just Google them, lots of free resources.)
2. Screenplays on the annual Black List (the industry’s most-liked unproduced scripts). These are the scripts by “baby writers” (usually) that moved the needle with executives. Pay close attention to the concepts! Measure yourself against these scripts. (Here’s a big folder of them.)
3. Amateur scripts: Do script swaps with other writers. (You can meet them on Facebook, Twitter, et al.) Not only is it a nice way to be, but you will learn a ton about your own mistakes by seeing how others make them, too. And you’ll make some good friends who can help you network.
I never learned so much as when I read other “developmental” scripts—it was uncanny how we all made the same mistakes.
And I truly do appreciate the writers I’ve met.
It is absolutely essential to get feedback! You must get lots and lots of reads so that you can develop your own “inner reader.”
Unfortunately, the paid services can be pretty bad. A lot of them use inexperienced readers, who they instruct to be encouraging to get repeat business. Their feedback is often vague and useless.
One of the worst things that happens is getting a “false positive”: WeScreenplay gives you top 3% or whatever, you’re on cloud nine from the praise, but the script just isn’t professional quality.
Professional feedback (from working writers) is much different than what you get from coverage services.
Pro takes are usually practical, actionable, and super smart. They don’t baby you, they just tell you the truth—and it’s a real wake-up call.
Try to find a writers’ group (easy to do on social media), or look for low-cost coverage options on Fiverr. If it’s your first draft, don’t get a $200 read—buy four $50 reads.
If they say different things, it’s just taste. If they all say the same things—it’s real.
Should you use a high-priced consultant? I was always skeptical, but a lot of writers swear by them.
This is sort of up to you, your taste, preferences and budget.
Just remember, the only person who can truly teach this stuff to you…is you.
But yeah, feedback is a must.