Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reasons Why Scripts Are Rejected

Dear Readers,

Following is an article I received concerning script rejections. Please read it. It says much of what I tell writers in my critiques of their work.

Most Common Reasons Why Scripts Are Rejected
imageplaceholderJeanne Veillette Bowerman
Online Editor

If you're trying to write a break-out spec script, don't miss Corey Mandell's webinar on Thursday, October 30th onAnatomy of a Successful Spec: What's Working in the Current Marketplace, now ON SALE until October 30, 2014. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation. 

by Corey Mandell

Whenever a script is submitted to the industry, it is passed off to a reader for analysis. The reader will give the script a "recommend," a "consider" or a "pass." And unless it gets a recommend, probably no one else is going to look at it. 

So how many scripts get a recommend? 

About two percent. 

Which means roughly ninety-eight percent of spec scripts are dead on arrival. Many of these scripts make the same mistakes, as one studio reader noted on Redit in a December posting. 

Why do so many writers make these kinds of errors, often over and over? Here's my take on the ten most common mistakes that were listed: 

1. The scenes are void of meaningful conflict 

I have found that roughly five percent of writers naturally write in professional-level conflict, by which I mean the kind of conflict that hooks a reader and makes them want to keep reading. The other ninety-five percent write scripts that routinely get rejected after a scene or two. But nobody tells the writers this. So they know they're failing, but often don't know why. 

The good news is that professional-level conflict is a learnable skill based on techniques that can be practiced and mastered. 

If you don't naturally write this way, as most writers don't, I can't emphasize enough how important it is that you make the investment to train yourself in these skills. 

As Michelle Tanner, who has nine years experience reading and analyzing scripts for the studios and major production companies, told my UCLA class, "Do whatever you can to learn how to write in professional-level compelling conflict. Because without that, you have no shot at making it. Without writing in compelling conflict, you are simply wasting your time." 

2. The script has a by-the-numbers execution 

Too many writers fall prey to the well-marketed classes and books that teach formulas, often labeled as must follow universal paradigms, structural building blocks, myth construction, genre guidelines, or such. It's an easy trap to fall into, especially given how many formulaic movies are cranked out of the studio system. 

But given the incredibly competitive landscape for breaking into the business, writing a paint-by-the-numbers script is a surefire way to be ignored. 

Adam Levine, a partner at the Verve agency, put it this way, "Challenge yourself to do something different. Because what I think really sticks out at the end of the day from the clutter is something that is obviously well-written, with great characters, but is also something that is innovative, that we haven't quite seen before or that challenges us. And so the stuff that is formulaic and that has been done a million times, it's not going to stand out and it's not going to make your career." 

Read all 10 of Corey's tips... 

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Some people request edits and critiques together. If a writer wants both, to me this says the writer is not completely confident his or her script is ready. So I  recommend getting the critique first. Use the critique to redo the script. Once the script is just right, then request the edit.

However, there are script, screenplay, writers who insist on having both an edit and critique together.  So I offer an edit and critique combo at discount.

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