Not All Screenwriting Advice is Created Equal
Twitter is full of great professional writers giving advice. Writers who have been doing this for 15-20 years and have reached heights most could only dream of! And what they say has GREAT value… BUT… before you follow every word those million dollar writers say on breaking-in and how to write your first few scripts…
Ask HOW they got to where they are.
Ask HOW – and WHEN – they broke-in to see if it’s similar to how YOU are trying to break-in NOW.
Because times change. Attitudes change. Preferences change. The business has 180 degrees changed. The rules or rather — guidelines — are different.
- 20 Years Ago, there were no Streaming Services or Internet Programming or Social Media.
- 20 Years Ago, there were 130 shows on TV, now there are 550.
- 20 Years Ago, you had to choose Film or TV and stay in your lane.
- 20 Years Ago, there were 5 studios and they all bought dozens of Original Pitches for 6-7 figures. Now, none of them buy Original Material.
- 20 Years Ago, Harry Potter didn’t exist and books were for reading, not adapting.
- 20 Years Ago, there were only 5 screenwriting contests to enter and they all got less than 1,500 submissions. Now, there are 400 contests and the majors each get up to 10,000 submissions!
- 20 Years Ago, there were about 20 Management Companies and they all took 10%. Now there are 200, and they all want a Producing Fee and Credit.
- 20 Years Ago, there were maybe 10 Script Consultants. Now there are more than I can %$@#! count.
- 20 Years Ago, you faxed your query letters.
- 20 Years Ago, you could break-in thru the very lucrative VHS/DVD market and be hugely successful.
- 20 Years Ago, there were 200 spec sales a year. Last year, there were 40.
- 20 Years Ago, there weren’t any “rules” because there was still a manageable amount of people trying to become screenwriters. We didn’t need any rules. Now, there are 70,000 scripts registered every year and everyone thinks they can be the next superstar.
- 20 Years Ago, you just had to know somebody. Now, you have to know somebody AND be %$@#! great!
My POINT IS… Taking advice from pro screenwriters who have been on the A-List for 15-20 years, is great. But they broke in at a VERY different time… under very different circumstances… through very different means than YOU will. And what works for THEM as they write and pitch and sell NOW, or even BACK THEN, will NOT necessarily work for you. And when they say there are NO rules… what they mean is… THERE ARE NO RULES FOR THEM.
Thank you, Danny, for your insight and joining us as a guest blogger! We’re so happy to have you join us again. Check out Danny on Screenwriters Beat Episode #42 about Query Letters.
Danny Manus is a former development executive, a writer, and was ranked one of the “Cream of the Crop” Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine.
February 19, 2019 at 9:01 pm
Thanks, Ann. Great advice and stats! Patti