It’s not easy, this writing thing.

I did an conference call / talk yesterday for the International Screenwriters Association. Had a good time answering excellent questions. Hope everyone learned something useful. Or maybe two things.

One thing I tried to get across was how tough this business is, and how difficult it is to get your work read — or to get ALL of your screenplay read.

I got an email from a writer who’d been on the call. He had finished a script and (clever fellow) had managed to get his query letter answered by several major companies, agreeing to read his screenplay. Already, that should feel like winning the lottery. It’s UNBELIEVABLY difficult to get someone to agree to read your work.

He sent in the script. And waited.
I don’t know how long it took him to write his script, but let’s say three months. Maybe six. I’ve taken a year on a screenplay. Whatever, a major investment in blood, toil, sweat, tears and time.

The response he got from one company: “Sorry, typos.”

A two word answer after months of labor.
I am sure he’ll run his spellcheck in the future, but chances are that company has him on a list and will not read his work in the future.

Details matter.
Like running your spellcheck.
They may not matter to you, of course. But they matter to the person you are asking to read your script.

“Sorry, typos.”
It broke my heart to think about the anguish, the “coulda shoulda woulda” feeling that arced through that writer like electrocution.

“Sorry, typos.”
Wow.
It’s not easy, writing.
Don’t make it any harder on yourself than you have to.

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5 Comments

Filed under Criticism, Screenwriting, The Business, Writing Process

5 responses to “It’s not easy, this writing thing.

  1. Ian

    Wow that really sucks. Didn’t he have a friend or someone tell him there were typos in it though? Or anyone that read the script point out there were typos? When someone wants me to read their script for feedback, I always point out typos to them and make the notes in there script where the typos are. And when someone does the same thing for me, I’m very grateful because I’m not always the best proofreader.

    Hopefully the person will here back from other companies.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      What is interesting is that his friends had proofread the script — but not with a hard copy. I firmly believe that you have to have a hard copy to proofread successfully.
      “Print To Proofread” is my new mantra. It’s the ONLY way to do it and anyone who thinks I am wrong, is wrong.

  2. SA CARPENTER

    Hello Mr. Akers,

    I found your recent posting about typos interesting. This fella might have written a great script. It gets the circular file because of a few typos? It makes one wonder how many other great stories are in the pile of rejects. Considering the fact that I’ve seen some real garbage, this year, that has managed to make it to production, could it really be that easy?

    The movies I’m speaking of are “Wonder Lust” and “That’s My Boy!”

    How encouraging. You can write garbage as long as there are no typos!

    SA CARPENTER

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Didn’t see those two movies. But, they got made and the writer got a giant check on the first day of principal photography. Goal achieved.

      Why would a producer think, if the writer hasn’t taken the time to proofread his or her screenplay, that the writer has a clue how to write a good script? The guy may have written a great script but they don’t have time to find out. When you have to read 15 scripts a weekend, you will take any excuse to toss one in the trash.

      Plus, it’s unprofessional to do a sloppy job, period.

      It doesn’t take long to proofread a script. If you’re no good at it, find someone who is and get their help. I suggest that a year’s worth of work writing a screenplay might be well served by a day or two of careful proofreading. You are asking someone to spend between $100,000 and $100,000,000 on the movie based on your script. They have to trust you’re professional. Why do anything that would violate that trust?

      • SA CARPENTER

        Hello Mr. Akers,

        I thought you might have caught my intentional typo. Unfortunately, the wander in “Wanderlust” was wondering why 35 mill was put into the movie. Oh well, as you metioned, a movie got made and a writer got paid. Fortunately, we have people like you who encourage writers to put more thought into their projects.

        I am curious to know how the writer handled the naming of the movie “Intouchables.” Did the writer have to make a notation that the title was indeed “Intouchable.” Intouchable is in the French dictionary, but It could have been perceived to be a typo, by an impatient script reader, couldn’t it?

        SA CARPENTER

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