Staton Rabin is a screenplay marketing consultant, script analyst, and "pitch coach" for screenwriters at all levels of experience.
It's that time of year, again... Presenting: my top 10 list of New Year's Resolutions for Screenwriters - 2015 edition.
Now, repeat after me:
1. "From this moment on, I refuse to make racking up screenwriting contest wins (or 'honorable mentions') a substitute for trying to get my script optioned or sold in the real world."
2. "I resolve to stop endlessly tinkering with the same script. Instead, I'll get the right advice from an expert, do one rewrite and a polish, and get it out there in the marketplace." Full disclosure: I evaluate screenplays for writers, and that's my day job. See #3, below, about "day jobs."
3. "I will be realistic about my ability to support myself solely by writing screenplays, and will 'keep my day job'." The right time to quit your day job? After you're getting hired on a regular basis to compose scripts that pay at least WGA minimum, and/or after you win your first Oscar. And maybe not even then.
4. "I will stop trying to figure out what's selling in the marketplace, and instead will only write stories I'm passionate about." Passionate, by the way, doesn't mean writing stories that only appeal to you for personal reasons, or that are boring or preachy, but rather coming up with a great, unique and exciting concept for a movie and then working very hard to structure and execute it properly. This requires careful planning before you write.
5. "I won't write scripts that are about me or my life unless I overthrew a country, won a gold medal in the Olympics (and not in the synchronized swimming event), or slept with Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Truman Capote, or the President of the United States (or, better yet, all four at the same time!)."
6. "I resolve to read more classic screenplays that were the basis of profitable movies that got great reviews." See my previous article on this topic.
7. "I will watch Fred Astaire dance in any of his movies with Ginger Rogers, and will tell myself, 'That's how good I have to be at what I do.'"
8. "I resolve to spend at least 80% of my writing time planning my next script before I write it, and I won't start writing it till I'm sure the concept and plot are working."
9. "As soon as I finish the final draft of one spec script, I promise that I will start working on the concept and synopsis for the next one."
Happy 2015! May all your screenwriting dreams come true.
Keep pitching. See you next month.
- More articles by Staton Rabin
- Jeanne's Screenwriting Tips: Polishing Your Screenplay
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Get more advice in Lee Jessup's book
Getting It Write: An Insider's Guide to a Screenwriting Career