Encouragement - Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My third screenplay received mostly positive feedback from a
respected L.A script consultant, so I am encouraged.
I don't know what a "respected LA script consultant" really is. But I would beware of relying on the positive feedback from any script consultant.

A script consultant, a good one, can tell you what's not working in your script. But whether they give you encouragement probably has more to do with their personality than your script.

When I used to read scripts for a fee, I would talk about the parts of the script that worked, and the parts that didn't. I tried to avoid evaluating it as "good" or "bad," except in the really rare cases where I read something that I thought could be set up. And then my encouragement looked like this: "I'd like to send this to a couple people, if you don't mind." The rest of the time, my critique was neutral. Because I didn't want anyone quitting their day job because some guy in LA said their script was good. And because most of the scripts I was reading were not very good.

Other script consultants like to say something nice. Because, you know, they're nice.

When you hire someone, and then they say nice things about you, it's not clear whether you're paying for evaluation or encouragement. The only encouragement that really means something for sure is when people spend their own time and money on you. When an agent takes you on, that's meaningful, because she doesn't get paid until you do. When a producer asks to option your script, even for a nominal payment, he's spending his time on your project.
As Jane Espenson also said in her blog, if you look back on your old stuff and it is wooden and stilted, that means you're getting better- and this is a good thing.
See, that's the kind of encouragement that really means something: when you, yourself, know that you're getting better.

So long as you're getting better, at some point, you will get good enough to make a living at it. A guy wrote in who wanted to know if he should quit after a year and a half. I did not support myself solely from writing for my first ten years in showbiz. So you have to be willing to stay in it for the long haul. But if you keep working at it, with clear eyes and a full heart -- if you need to make it -- you'll make it.

1 Comments:

Sometimes encouragement can be a detriment. The first script I ever finished nearly sold. It was SOO close. A few times, actually. I was young and naive and it took me ten years to get back into the game after not selling it. Now I know not to expect anything, other than that I have to keep working, no matter what.

By Blogger Tim W., at 4:37 PM  

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