Posted by: steveonfilm | April 4, 2012

Who Is REALLY Reading Your Stuff?

“…good writing will stand out, even to readers who have little understanding of the craft.”
-Scott Myers

I don’t remember who it was that linked to it on Twitter, but I started reading Gavin Polone’s article “Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters?” on Vulture.com today.

I’m not familiar with the site Vulture, but Palone’s writing was an enjoyable, if not discouraging read. However, anyone who’s even remotely looked into what it takes to “break in” as a screenwriter should be familiar with at least some of the things he hits on.

Of course, if there’s a valuable web post about screenwriting, Scott Myers over at Go Into The Story will link to it, and sure enough he did today. I swear, this guy must have a staff of at least fifteen minions considering the volume of things he’s able to post. Myer’s has some good commentary on the post which you should check out.

What I found most interesting was the snippet from the script “Sunset Blvd.” that he posts up. If you haven’t seen that movie, do yourself a favor and check it out. For a movie from the 50’s, it still stands up really well, and the main character is a screenwriter. So it’s got that going for it too.

His example segues into some comments on keeping in mind just who will be reading your stuff.

* Understand that this first line of defense is your ‘audience.’ And that ‘audience’ is a young male or female, fresh out of college, severely overworked and underpaid, but with big ambitions to make it in the film business.

* Assume if they are there working as an unpaid intern or low-level assistant, they have a passion for movies, otherwise why else would they put up with such working conditions. And if they have a passion for movies, that means they will have a passion for great stories.

* Keep in mind that 95% of the scripts they cover are either poor or pure crap. The upside is (1) this means these gatekeepers desperately want to read a great script and (2) good writing will stand out, even to readers who have little understanding of the craft.

This is a really cool perspective on things. In my professional career I’m formally educated as a ‘technical writer.’ One of the biggest things you’re taught is that you need to write for your ‘audience.’ If it’s super techy people, then use all the jargon you want. If it’s low level grunts, keep the jargon to a minimum. Always write from the perspective of your ‘audience.’ It was interesting, at least to me, to see that theme carries over into screenwriting as well.

Check out the two articles and let me know what you think.

Keep writing,
-Steve

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