So, Christmas* is around the corner (*other seasonal holidays are available). We all know what this means ... Yes, that writers wish they could be writing instead of doing all that boring and annoying family stuff! ACK, spouses, kids, parents, siblings, aged aunts and uncles, grandchildren, pets etc are SO INCONSIDERATE!
But more importantly (le duh): December is really NOT a great time of year to make any submissions. I can’t stress this enough. Sure, if someone’s actually asked for something, then great! Go ahead. Otherwise, STEP AWAY from that inbox or postbox maestro, firing off your masterpiece is utterly pointless.
Why? C’mon, it’s obvious why! There’s more screenplays than anyone can ever read, in the system ALREADY. It doesn’t stop for Chrimbo, chaps. So if the screenplay you slaved over all year lands on someone’s desk or in their inbox in December? It’s going to get pushed off the precipice into JANUARY ... except there’s a big HOLIDAY-SHAPED HOLE in the way!
You might as well do, well, THIS:
Look. I’m not saying that agents, producers, filmmakers and their assistants are actively deleting or putting our screenplay hard copies in the round filing cabinet because they want a guilt-free Christmas (OK, yes I am, ‘cos a small minority probably are!).
But like us writers, these guys are ONLY HUMAN. If they have to file various submissions, even in the right places, then walk away from them for an extended period – isn’t the likelihood of them getting misfiled and forgotten just a smidge higher than NORMAL?
So don’t be a Christmas Turkey. Follow these 5 submission tips INSTEAD:
1) Take deep breaths. Wherever you want to submit, it’s still going to be there in January. Plus a little time away from a piece of writing can do WONDERS for your brain, which may give you a Christmas present all of its own ... a fantastic idea, to add to your great writing later!
2) Shiny up your submission. Double-check EVERYTHING. Format, margins, conventions, whatevers – you name it, check it. No one is more of a pedant than you, El Writero. Go to town. Here’s a complete rundown of the many, many format errors I see most often and what to do about them.
3) Do some research. But not into your script – into the people and companies you’re submitting to! Are they the right fit for your script? REALLY?? You’d be surprised by how many places get stuff outside their remit. Make sure you’re not wasting their time or yours.
4) Read a book on screenwriting. WTF? You've just written a screenplay. You don't need any How To advice from evil, no good GURUS who suckle at capitalism's evil teat! Oh, wait. Turns out there's all sorts of screenwriting books now, whether you're interested in TV writing; features; short films; drama versus genre; careers advice - you name it. Bet you can find one that's half interesting, no? Here's 6 of the best, for your consideration.
5) Get some last minute feedback via peer review. So all the movers and shakers might be getting ready for the hols, but your fellow writers may well be twiddling their thumbs - find them via Bang2writers, post on the wall. Get their kneejerk reactions on your pitch, cover letter/email or first ten pages. But don’t rewrite according to everything they say; weigh it all up carefully and consider if it’s viable, even if it’s good feedback. What do you lose? What do you gain? Try and recognize feedback with an agenda, too. Here’s 5 Ways To Use Feedback Effectively.
6) Send the people you want to submit to a short holiday greeting via email or better still, an actual card. Industry Pros (or rather, their assistants) remember this and never mind it, as long as it’s a) addressed to them/their office individually (ie. not a round robin) and b) you’re not really verbose, weird or gimmicky.
Oh – and do not, under ANY circumstances, do any of these things over the Christmas holidays while you wait:
- Stalk the people you want to submit to on social media. Following and unfollowing on Twitter in a bid to get them to notice you is NOT COOL
- Try and educate any pros on the industry and their own jobs whilst you're under the influence of the cooking sherry
- Rant on social media about how crap every movie shown on TV over the holidays is (or if you do, be funny about it)
- Make (serious) accusations or proclamations of woe
- Post any nude pics on Facebook or Instagram (unless you’re a nude model and it’s your actual job, then fair dos ... Or you're Hugh Jackman, in which case remember to @ me, baby - I'm @Bang2write)
- Send anybody targeted spam, “Hey I JUST KNOW you’re off work at the moment and trying to enjoy your vacation, so no excuses biatch, WATCH MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL OR SIMILAR”! Nooooooo!
In other words, don’t be weird: Baby Jesus hates it when you do that. Here's 7 more submission DON'Ts, from the person who has to read your screenplay.
OK that’s enough blasphemy for one post about screenwriting. Happy holidays!
- More articles by Lucy V. Hay
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