No One Is More Arrogant Than A Beginner

So sayeth Elizabeth Ashley.

One of my students has gone on to critique scripts. The apple doesn’t fall far… He’s a hell of a writer and gives excellent notes. He sent me this email.

***

I just read one of the worst scripts I have ever encountered. I have a new respect for your suffering.

Let’s see… hm….

1. wrong font… arial all the way
2. dialogue made me want to jab a fork into my eyes
3. how about this: fade up/fade down. Could you hear my shriek?
4. typos
5. naked slug lines… I honestly don’t even think he knows what that means
6. characters just appear in dialogue. I can only assume that they are ghosts since there is no identification on them at all… and this isn’t even a sci fi script
7. interchanging names. What in the hell. If you’re calling him Jeff, why in the hell would you call him Chuckles? That’s annoying and confusing and makes me hate you, dear writer
8. so freaking boring I prayed for a coma
9. spoke to him about getting your and Blake’s books and he said he didn’t need them, that my suggestions were null and void because I’m not a Hollywood producer
10. wants to film in two months, has no money raised and actually called Leonardo Dicaprio’s agent
11. wonders why I refuse to help him at this point

What is wrong with people!?

Again, my respect to you and your reading of material that makes you want to throw yourself into boiling pits of lava.

***

That sounds far, far worse than what I am sent, probably because I require clients to read my book before they send the script. Precisely why I wrote the book, so you can solve problems on your own.

My favorite part, and I have sadly seen this before, is the “You can’t know anything because you’re not in Hollywood.” Well, does one also think, “You can’t write because you’re not in Hollywood.”??? Gosh, I hope not.

What about the idea that ANYbody’s idea that improves your work is a good thing?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “No One Is More Arrogant Than A Beginner

  1. On a blog about the top ten screenwriting books (http://goodinaroom.com/blog/screenwriters-books/), which left your book off their list, I left this comment:

    William Aker’s YOUR SCREENPLAY SUCKS will help you see the many annoying things that beginning screenwriters tend to do, and overdo, then do again … like being too repetitive.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated!

    • Shawty

      Lol I remember my first script I wrote! peeps said I had a better shot writing novels. After getting some honest feedback and forcing myself out of panic attacks I smiled and said. Ok, let’s keep going! I haven’t even been writing for a year. On day I’m gonna be a pro! And I have kick ass dialog! 😀

  2. I have to say I’m really surprised a script can be that bad.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Ian,
      I wish I were making it up. It’s sometimes stunning that people will take all that time to write something, and have zero idea what they are doing. It’s like building a whole house on a foundation made of balloons. Not gonna hold up for long…

    • Hi Ian I’m a young screenwriter advice? :p

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        Sounds like you’re on your way.
        Good luck.

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        Read this blog and my book!

      • A good start would be to mind your spelling and grammar at every opportunity. Hi, Ian. I’m a young screenwriter. Advice?

        And stop using emoticons. They only highlight subtext failings. :c)

        See? Couldn’t tell if I was being pissy or lighthearted. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the irony of using one.

        That being said I don’t usually admonish posters for spelling, grammar and typo mistakes as one never knows what conditions they are posting from. (phone, boss–one cubicle over, kids screaming in the background, etc). But I’ve seen it too often in other situations where one has to look at what is written and decide: Does this guy need help or is he beyond help. If looks like I have to start with basic English then I usually pass.

        Of course, I’m an old fart / screenwriting newbie. So, what do I know.

  3. yourscreenplaysucks

    And, then when you give them suggestions for improvement, they are furious. Happens all the time.

  4. Cervantes said, “There is no book so bad that something good cannot be found in it.” I guess that applies to scripts, too, if only “I sure hope I never write anything as bad as this dreck!” Or maybe another entry for “The Ten Worst Lines of Dialogue I Ever Read.”

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Cervantes had more time than I do. A New Year’s Resolution, one of the few I’ve kept, is “Walk out of the movie the first time you think you should.” When I leave, and friends stay, and I later ask, “So, how was it?” their answer is always, “Awful.”

      Bad movies don’t get better as you go along.
      Books are the same. If you hate it partway through, stop reading. It won’t get better.
      Same for screenplays. If they’re great at the beginning, they can slowly fall apart. But, if they stink at page 10, they will never improve.

      So stop reading.

      The “I can do better than that,” is a good spur. But the “I can write better than this crap, ” had better not mean (and I can’t remember which writer I heard say this at a conference) that all you’re writing is Crap +1.

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