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Why wait until the end?

December 20, 2009

We, The ScreenwriterA lot of screenwriters believe selling their first screenplay is the hard part. It’s not. Selling that second script, then being able to sell or be hired to deliver another time and again, year after year is where they real hurt lies.

Knowing what it takes to launch and sustain a successful screenwriting career is what the professional screenwriter knows.

Which brings me to, “Why do you wait until the very end of the movie to identify the screenwriters appearing throughout?” – possibly the question I’m asked more than any other about WE, THE SCREENWRITER. It’s a good and valid question, too.

Here’s my answer…

Too many in search of a break dismiss the perspectives of writers who don’t necessarily work in their genre, regardless of how successful they may be. For example, many who write romantic comedy can’t fathom what somebody like Shane Black, who’s written such buddy-crime-thrillers as LETHAL WEAPON and KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG, could possibly have to say relevant to writing rom-com. He’s no Nora Ephron, afterall. Consequently, the aspiring rom-commer turns a deaf ear to what considerable business and storytelling expertise Shane brings to the table in belief that the legion of how-to-write-screenplay gurus who make their living hocking ridiculous absolutes in effort to “teach” others how to write for market — when they themselves are unable to make a living doing so — somehow know better.

Bottom line is that there’s no single right way to write a screenplay, only an infinite number of wrong ways. No number of how-to books or weekend seminars or 15-minute pitch sessions might reveal the single most important thing that can make all the difference in your writing a successfully communicative script. However, the off-handed aside by an accomplished writer over a drink at the bar, or a cup of coffee? That, in my experience, has time and again proven to be the very essential thing that can make the difference between personal success and failure.

Regardless of genre, quality storytelling is conveyed through engaging prose and densely woven characters caught up in believable and increasingly combustible circumstances which conspire to an ultimately emotionally satisfying conclusion.

So why wait until the end of WE, THE SCREENWRITER to reveal which writer is whom? Because I want you to pay attention to the wisdom of every one appearing in the movie and profit from having done so. What Dana Fox (WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS) offers is no less of value than what Ronald D. Moore (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) does, or Daniel Pyne (FRACTURE) or Allison Burnett (FAME). All different writers. All dealing with the realities of sustaining a career in today’s Hollywood.

When the I.D. comes up near the end my hope is that you’ll exclaim, “Damn, I would never have believed that what the guy who did TV’s HOUSE or the movie CONSTANTINE said applies directly to me and my sock-puppet zombie musical. It just may have changed my life!”

What do you say?

–msg

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