This week, a tweet by William C. Martell @wcmartell caught my eye:
"Rules" exists for a reason. In screenwriting, it's often a simple slugline rule that helps the line producer figure out the shooting schedule and cost. Yet writers will lament over how to use them or not use them, and battle it out.
But if the "rule" is just personal preference or style of the writer, that's not a dealbreaker for any producer.
Everyone wants to know the rules to writing a great script and breaking into screenwriting, as if there is some magic formula. Kinda like they want to know how to lose 20 pounds without having to work out or eat healthy.
Why can't I just keep eating that double-decker burger with condiments oozing from the sides every day for lunch and still lose weight? Why can't I just dabble here and there in writing, not bother to understand why format and structure are important, and still break into an industry thousands of talented writers are vying for positions in?
Before you break any "rules," you need to understand what the industry norm is, read great scripts, educate yourself on how others did it before you, work hard, and sacrifice.
Martell added this image to his tweet ...
Your goal should always be to stand out from the crowd. Do that by being a true artist. Be daring and original.
Obviously, I have not interviewed every person in the industry, but I've spoken with a lot of them. Every single one had a different story on how they broke in. Every single executive had unique advice to writers. Many also had a very different style of writing. Yet, they were all successful, either as writers or execs.
But before you can break "the rules," you need to understand why they are perceived as "rules," so, as Martell says, "you can use that reason to find a completely original way to do it ... that also works."
There are as many ways to break in as there are people who have broken in.
And there is only one rule that matters: Write a great story.
Now get off Twitter and go write.