How to Kill a Giant

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Maybe you’re writing a screenplay or novel.  Maybe you’re trying to get in shape for the first time in years.  Maybe you’re sifting through thousands of Google Images of “giant burgers” to try and find the right one to put at the top of your blog post.

Huge projects always feel overwhelming, daunting, and exhausting, but there are easy ways to trick your brain into believing you’ll reach your goal…

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Your Script is Terrible.

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Why is the night never bright and calm?

Was that mean? I’m sorry to say, it’s true.

It’s a lousy script. The characters, they’re flat boring and predictable. The plot!? Trite! Your script has second act problems, sooo many second act problems. Your protagonist is obviously just you, only doing things and saying things you’re unwilling and afraid to actually do or say in real life. And your ending? Don’t even get me started on your ending.

Yes, I’m being overly harsh. But, I’m making a point. My simple point is that you should give up on that script and move on to writing a new one. And here’s why:

If you’re lucky, some day you’ll end up in a room pitching your idea to some executive, or someone else with a lot of money who can make your idea a reality. You’ll pitch your heart out, you’ll give it everything you have, and you’ll nail it. That person will look up at you, nod, and they’ll say…

“So, what else do you got?”

I know it will happen to you, because it’s happened to me. They didn’t like your first idea. Maybe they HATED it. Still, they’re willing to hear another one, see another one… you do have another one ready, right? RIGHT?!

Now, I will admit, if you’ve finished a script you should be proud. Most people don’t do that. Most people let it sit unfinished on their computer for years. Something they’ll always get around to. Yet, now that it’s done, it seems no matter what you do, the important things – fame and glory, money and jobs, wine and immortalitydon’t seem to be happening. No one wants to buy your script!

Why is it not selling? Why are they not beating down your door? Maybe you’re just not lucky, maybe you don’t have the right friends and connections, or maybe… the script is bad.

That can’t be! It’s your love, your one true plot. The only good idea you’ve ever had and will ever have!

If you’re only going to ever have one good idea, why do you want to write? If it was just to get that one good idea out, bam, done, good work! You did it! If you want to write for a living you need to be able to churn ideas out. Not like some writing mill, but a new one every now and then may be required of you.

Relax. Take a deep breath. Just try this. Stop putting all your time into trying to sell your script. Let it sit in the back drawer. Let it get some dust. Let it just be done for a while.

I’ll say it again, start a new script. Think about what you didn’t like with the last one, think about what could be better. Think about what things you love in fiction and what things you hate. Write something that surprises you. Write in a genre you’ve never considered writing in before. Finish THAT script.

It will probably suck as well, but when you’ve finished two lousy scripts, you can finish three. When you’ve finished three, you can finish five. When you’ve finished five, you can finish ten.

When you’ve got ten scripts, well, one of those is probably decent isn’t it? Now when you DO get that moment and someone that matters is willing to look at your work, you don’t just have your one desperate cry in the dark, you have a grand ocean of writing. You can show them all sorts of things. Maybe even something they’ll like.

The point I’m trying to make is that good writing comes from dedicated editing. Great writing comes from practice, and a willingness to keep trying.

Now the less harsh truth:  your script probably isn’t that bad, but if you’re hung up on trying to get it produced, you’re focused on that and you’re not writing. Move on to the next piece. That’s the great thing about writing, you can always come back to something later.

So go, write so many terrible scripts that one is accidentally amazing. Unless you’re much more talented than me (and you might be) that’s the only way to ever actually make something great.