Posted by: steveonfilm | September 12, 2009

Spelling? What Spelling?

I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a reader over the past few days that I wanted to share on the blog. The conversation dealt with spelling and grammar. It was the reader’s opinion that I shouldn’t post any of my writing unless it was free of spelling and grammar errors. I felt the opposite, since what I’m writing currently is a first draft, and I don’t usually go back and correct that stuff until after I complete the last page. In addition, the purpose of my daily posts is to show my progress, not a finished product.

The conversation evolved from there. His overall viewpoint was that what I was posting was representative of myself as a writer. And if I was lucky enough to have someone looking for “unknowns” stumble upon my blog, read my stuff and like it, they might be turned off if they come across spelling and grammar problems in my samples.

My viewpoint was that I play the odds. And the odds are that isn’t going to happen. While it’s is “possible” a “talent scout,” if there is such a thing in LA (which I don’t think there is), was to stumble on my blog and read my stuff, the odds are that isn’t going to happen. So I’m not going to stress out about it. In my view, worrying bout spelling and grammar on a daily basis is like a painter wanting his/her painting to look like a finished product each time they pick up a brush.

The point of My Other Career isn’t to showcase finished products, though they will certainly be written about, it’s to show the screenwriting process. It’s to encourage other people sitting on ideas, that think they can’t write, to download a program and get started. It’s to try and make that first blank page seem less intimidating. And if you only show writing that looks like a finished product, it’s only going to seem that much less approachable by amateurs.

Also, on the case of “talent scouts” (this is a generic term we were using, and like I said, not something either of us think, or know, exists), it was my opinion that there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of writers sending their stuff to agencies every day. There’s no reason anyone looking to represent new writers would need to go out looking for talent, especially on random blogs, since new talent is literally banging down the doors as it is.

I guess there is no right or wrong answer to what we’re talking about, just different approaches. Like I’ve gone on record saying before, I’m under no delusions that I’ll make it as a writer. Hell, I don’t even live in L.A. What I do know is that I enjoy writing. I enjoy completing each screenplay. And I believe there are thousands of other people out there who just need that little extra bit of encouragement to start writing too. The next Tony Gilroy, David Mamet, William Goldman, or Oliver Stone is out there, and just too intimidated to start writing. I want to make sure we’re not robbed from their visions, just because they don’t think they could write.

On a related to note, I was lucky enough to “meet” someone who has a very good chance of making it as a professional writer, and that is Ashley F. Miller. Ashley was nice enough to link to my blog, and I’ve since done the same to hers. Ashley is also a semi-finalist to the Nicholl’s Fellowship, the pre-eminant screenwriting award for aspiring screenwriters. Even getting shortlisted for the Nicholl’s Fellowship can open all sorts of doors. I’ll be eagerly following Ashley’s blog from here on out, and wish her the best of luck. You should check out her blog too.

Until next time, keep writing!



  1. There aren’t “talent scouts” but there are assistants to agents who spend a lot of time trying to find the next big thing. Because if they can represent the next big thing, they won’t have to be assistants anymore. People with blogs do get discovered, but usually only if the blog makes the national news somehow ala Julie and Julia. And, I think that writing a blog is more about exercising the writing muscles and presenting a consistent voice.

    People are going to respond to your point of view, and unless your spelling and grammar is egregious, it’s just not that important.

    Also, thanks so much for the link and such! I’m glad you’ll be following me.

  2. “I think that writing a blog is more about exercising the writing muscles and presenting a consistent voice.”

    Thanks Ashley, that’s exactly what I was trying to get at!

    And no problem with the link. I’m excited to hear how the changes at the fellowship plays out.

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