Posted by: steveonfilm | January 18, 2011

You Are Not Alone

I joined a new “screenwriting group” this week that sort of grew out of the comment section over at ScriptShadow. It’s been interesting to see how it’s shaped up. There’s a lot of message noise right now as people trade scripts back and forth, and we give feedback and commentary on things written and ideas in general.

But one thing struck me more than anything else… there are a lot more “good” writers out there than I expected.

Now, maybe that’s not a fair assessment because if you’re on ScriptShadow on a regular basis, you likely take screenwriting seriously. And thus your writing should likely reflect that. But I don’t think that’s the case here. I think that there are likely more “good” writers out there than people think.

So if everyone’s good, why aren’t they all professionals? In the real world those two facets are not related. Whether it’s screenwriting or computer programming, different people with rise up to higher levels for different reasons. Sometimes people break through based on sheer will and effort. But most times it’s a combination of luck and talent. If a door opens, do you know when to walk through. And if you do walk through, do you know what to do once you’re on the other side? Whether it’s screenwriting or life in general, recognizing and being able to take advantage of opportunities as they spring up in life is one of the biggest determinators of where you’re going to end up.

I’ve read a lot more amateur work in the last four days than I ever have in the previous five years of writing. The vast majority of it was pretty good. Not great. Not professional. But good. It’s not hard to imagine any of these scripts getting into the hands of an agent or manager that it just “clicks” with, and then someone being off to the races.

Think that’d never happen? Think again.

How many movies have you seen that were shit? Someone had to write them. Someone who put a lot of time and effort into crafting that story. They didn’t set out to write a shitty movie. They set out to write something entertaining and hopefully respectable. But as you all know, a lot of things go into writing a script. If you’re an amateur you get to control all of them. If you’re a professional, you don’t. Not all professional writers out there are “great.” Many, if not most, are just good. They’re able to craft a story in a way that can be produced, and they can handle all the variables that go into writing it.

The truly great screenwriters will rise above the rest of the crop. But that’s true in anything. For every Michael Jordan, there are plenty of other guys who are professional basketball players with great talent. They’re just not Michael Jordan. It doesn’t mean they’re not good.

Maybe I just feel like, for the first time, I’m not in this one alone. I guess a sense of community will do that for you.

Until next time, keep writing!

P.S. On the flip side, I finished the fourth outline for “The Prey” and sent that off to Michael. He’s headed to Sundance this week, so I likely won’t hear back on it until sometime next week. In the meantime I think I might tinker with “Served Cold” and “The Collector” a bit.


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