So, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you’ve watched at least one episode of The Simpsons in the last two decades or so.
One of the world’s longest-running, best-loved sitcoms (animated or not), The Simpsons arguably owes a great chunk of its success to patriarch Homer Simpson. Homer is the epitome of The American NIGHTMARE – an ill-educated, childish, lazy slob ... who somehow manages to a) keep hold of his family and b) his job, plus c) the respect of (most) everyone around him. WTF???
So I thought, with the holidays around the corner, it’d be a fun wheeze to look to Homer for inspiration on our submissions in the new year:
1.) “Welcome to the humiliating world of professional writing.”
Look, I get it. You don’t see why you should bow and scrape to submissions guidelines, or format your screenplay in any particular way. It’s the story that counts, right? RIGHT – except when it doesn’t.
It used to be that you had TEN pages to wow the reader – but with masses more submissions, often it’s just ONE. I know, right! So unfair. But deal with it and ensure your first page is TRIPLE AWESOME, so the reader will get to page ten (and hopefully, beyond). MORE:10 Tips For The Perfect Ten (Pages)
2.) “English? Who needs that – I’m never going to England.”
Look, I know this is boring, but good spelling, punctuation and grammar is the very least a writer can do. That’s just the way it is. What’s more, there are common slip ups MANY writers make, which can really wind up script readers. Believe me when I say it really does pay to put this stuff under the microscope. MORE:10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now
3.) “I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there – save me, Superman!”
Too many writers believe getting their spec read is simple luck and/or knowing the “right” people. While forging good relationships with people in the industry NEVER hurts, making submissions is NOT a case of simply throwing spaghetti at the wall. You CAN succeed, no matter who you are or what you’re doing, provided you have a STRATEGY. For five strategies for professional writers, CLICK HERE.
4.) “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.”
“Not caring” about what happens in a screenplay is a note that’s often given, but usually this means the reader feels bored or overly familiar with the characters and their plight. Sometimes this is a question of “you win some, you lose some,” but if this note comes back from MULTIPLE readers �� then you should probably listen. MORE:6 Stock Characters That Need Retiring By Writers NOW
5.) “It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.”
This point is very simple: DON’T OUTRIGHT LIE, EVER in your submissions. You may think you’ve got away with it, but the screenwriting world is smaller than you think. MORE:How To Put Together A Writer’s CV / Resumé
6.) “Everyone says they have to work a lot harder when I’m around.”
You can be a motivating influence on those around you, or a horrible DRAIN. Guess who’s more likely to get their spec screenplay read and produced??? Remember point 5 on this list: PEOPLE TALK. MORE:6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success
7.) “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”
Nothing is worse than rejection, but remember: ALL writers get it. Yes, even professional writers! So you can let it get you down, or get on with it. The choice is yours. MORE:7 Things You Must Stop Doing If You Want To Be A Professional Writer
8.) “A woman is like beer. They look good, they smell good and you’d step over your own mother to get one!”
Female characterisation is very much part of the discussion at the moment, especially online. Women in screenplays fared badly for a very long time, but they’re no longer being sidelined – so you HAVE to make sure they really shine! Get a free 28 page ebook on how NOT to write female characters, HERE.
9.) “Men can also have feelings. For example, they can feel hungry!”
But WAIT - just because female characterisation is all the rage at the moment, doesn’t mean you can skimp on your men! Make sure they’re as authentic, flawed and 3D as the female characters and your spec submission will be differentiated from the pile. MORE:5 Reasons Why Male Characterisation Needs An Overhaul Too
10.) “To alcohol*! The cause of – and solution to – all life’s problems.”
Remember point 7 on this list? Well, I lied: there IS one thing worse than rejection, which is NEVER HEARING AT ALL. Do whatever it takes to get over this. That can include alcohol like Homer, or pick something healthier and/or more productive, like lion taming. Whatever you want! But remember to get straight back on that horse. MORE:When Is A Rejection A Rejection If I Don’t Hear Anything?
Best of luck with your submissions in the new year ...
Don’t forget my Christmas gift to you spec screenwriters, THE ULTIMATE BLUEPRINT ON HOW **NOT** TO WRITE FEMALE CHARACTERS, a free 28 page ebook which does exactly what it says on the cover. Get it by subscribing to my site, HERE or by clicking one of the pics in this article.
Enjoy and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
- More articles by Lucy V. Hay
- Balls of Steel: Getting Honest Feedback
- Submissions Insanity: The Least You Can Do
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