I just finished writing my first screenplay. I need to get it to some people ASAP but I'm afraid they will reject it not because I don't have a great story with compelling characters and engaging dialogue but because I didn't write it professionally. Please advise.
I disagree. If you've just finished writing your first screenplay, you need to set it aside for a little while. Write something else. And then come back and rewrite it.
No professional sends out a first draft.
You can't stress these three points enough:
1.) No professional sends out a first draft.
2.) The first thing you've written is crap, no matter what you think about it.
3.) THE FIRST THING YOU'VE WRITTEN IS CRAP, NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT IT.
Put it away. Don't look at the script, write another one. And another one. Maybe something completely different - a TV pilot? A spec script for an existing show? Take your time. Read books about screenwriting (no matter how good or bad they are). Read screenplays - todays hits for tackling the form, the classics for tackling the story. Compare first drafts to final drafts. And then --
-- go back to your first script. Laugh out loud, because you WILL find out that many of the things you adored when writing it just don't work. Or they just work in your head. Your formatting is wrong, your way of writing isn't intriguing, your characters are flawed. Whatever it is - it is there. Believe us.
Don't send it out. You'll feel like a fool later.
What did the person mean by not writing it professionally? I'm stumped.
I think she means it won't look like a properly formatted script. Which is a valid concern.
Whew, that first draft urgency! To give the newbie a bit of an idea, I've been rewriting the same script for over a year now. Over that time, it's moved from great idea, terrible execution, to great idea, good execution. Now I'm about to move it to great idea, great execution for an ICM agent who likes it. It's all about being patient and recognizing that Fade Out doesn't mean Send Out.
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