Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What types of scripts are selling in 2011?

What types of scripts are selling in 2011?

Here’s a break down of the genres sold in October 2011 per the Scoggins Report:

New Specs 47
Number Sold 20
Percent Sold 43%

Genres Sold
2 Action/Adventure
5 Comedy
5 Drama
1 Horror
3 Sci-Fi
3 Thriller
1 Unknown

The amazing thing is that people in the industry will tell you to NOT write a drama because those don’t sell, well as you see, William Goldman was right...nobody knows anything...especially when it comes to what will sell. The one “unknown” that sold was probably a script that couldn’t easily fit into any drama...who knows.

The lesson is to write from your heart, continue to show up on the page and know that good writing will eventually sell.  If you keep at it and believe that quitting is not an option, your time will come.

Write right and write on!


For more industry information, check out

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why did they pass on my brilliant screenplay?!?

We’ve all been there. You’ve spent 3 to 6 months or more working on your screenplay. You’ve put your best foot forward and then some and you were psyched because someone actually wanted to read it. You give it a once over then nervously attach it to an email and send it off then wait...and wait...and wait what seems like forever and either after endless waiting you finally hear back and it’s a, “No, not what we’re looking for.” or never hear back from them ever again and contacting them makes you feel like a psycho stalker. Rarely do we get an explanation as to why they really passed on our work. I found the below except on Linda Bergman’s blog and thought I would share it here. Knowing how those in the industry feel will better help you polish your gem of a screenplay the next time it goes out...or better yet, will help you write a better script from the start.

Except from Linda Bergman’s

1. Your story is probably not as original as you think. If it rings of anything familiar, it will get passed on. Also, if it is too contrived, it will get a big fat “No.” If the story is not a good one and executed perfectly, it will get a pass. If it is a terrific story and executed poorly, it might have a chance at getting optioned and new writers assigned. Don’t do a rehash of something you saw. Make your idea (which has probably already been done somewhere by someone) different enough to be called original. Find a way to make it fresh and compelling. You do that by having something NEW to say about the idea or a different point of view.

2. Your characters are weak, flat, and unimaginative. Murky characters don’t have a goal. They aren’t driven to overcome any obstacles. They don’t come to life on the page and we don’t care about them. I always ask my students if they have written a ten page bio for each of their characters. You don’t have to put everything in the script that they did their whole life, but a good bio will inform your writing of the character. You are the only person that can bring him/her to life for the reader. And the reader is the first step in the process of selling.

3. Your descriptions are too long, too wordy. Just pick the best words to economically describe a scene then let the reader’s imagination take over.

4. Your dialogue is clunky, over-written, unnatural, too on-the-nose, or you are using dialogue as exposition. Don’t tell the reader what is going on through dialogue, show the reader what is going on with action. Also, make sure your characters don’t all sound the same. Good dialogue has rhythm and meter. Each character should have their own.

5. You don’t have a conventional three act structure and your tone is not obvious up front. Write like a pro and you’ll have a better chance of selling like a pro. No exec will read past page thirty (some will only read to page ten) if you don’t have a structure in place.

6. Your script doesn’t make the reader FEEL. If a reader laughs or cries or gets scared, this is a good thing. Even if a script is well written, it can still be boring. Ask yourself if you are moved by your material, if you didn’t laugh or cry, no one else will.

7. Your script cannot be marketed. There are a lot of well-executed scripts with material that cannot be sold. Maybe it’s too similar to one the studio or production company already has in development. Or maybe your rom com is just too cookie cutter or your thriller is not that particular execs cup of tea. These are things you cannot control and please try not to take them personally.

8. You did not let enough people who know what they are doing read the script before you submitted it. A script must be in the best possible shape before you send it to a buyer. Find an editor or professional that can help you and ask all the tough questions of your piece before it goes out.

Most importantly, don’t stop writing!

Linda has some good advice and freely shares her industry experience.  Be sure to check it out.  Oh and her book, "So You Think Your Life's a Movie", isn't too shabby either.

For industry insight into getting them to say Yes instead of No and getting that much sought after sell, check out The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood, without an agent and even when you don't live in LA.

Good luck and happy writing and getting those Yes's!

Write right and write on!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Secret to Writing Screenplays

I believe the secret to writing screenplays is being prolific in writing them.  The more you write, the better you get, just like with any other craft.  Below is an article written by Martin Acuna that explains the road to prolificity.  Take note and write write write write. He also has a free newsletter that you can sign up for that has other great screenwriting tips and tips for breaking into the industry.  Be sure to check it out.  The more you write, the better your chances of having the million dollar screenplay and also when someone asks, "What else do you have?", you won't come up empty handed. 

Write right and write on!


The Importance of Being Prolific

by Marvin V. Acuna

Terry Rossio (co-writer of the Pirates of the Carribbean franchise) believes that

a trait of successful screenwriters is... Prolificacy.

Here are his specific thoughts:


Consider this: in the afterward of Stephen King’s book Different Seasons, he
explains how the four stories in the volume came about. Each one was written
after he had completed writing one of his novels.

He writes, “...[I]t’s as if I've always finished the big job with just enough gas
left in the tank to blow off one good-sized novella.” So he wrote The Body
after Salem's Lot. Apt Pupil after The Shining. Rita Hayworth and the

Shawshank Redemption after The Dead Zone. And Breathing Method after
Firestarter. Now just stop and think about this. Here's a writer who, after
finishing a bestselling novel, has the ability to sit down and knock out a
masterfully written novella in a matter of days. And three of these
“afterthoughts” have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Now that's prolific.
I often meet screenwriters that become obsessed with one screenplay and devote
years of their time and energy to it. Some spend more than a decade on one.
Other writers expend precious energy awaiting responses to query letters or
submissions. Months go by and the only additional writing done is focused on
follow-up letters or emails asking the horrid question: Have you read my script?

In my humble opinion, if you are spending that kind of time on one screenplay,
writing is a hobby, not a profession.

If screenwriting is a hobby for you, then it doesn't matter. But if you are truly
committed to screenwriting as a professional endeavor, then generating content
should be a ritual, a tradition, an absolute must.

Hobby or profession? Only you know the truth.

This is a competitive profession. It requires that you play your A-game even if you
are not yet an A-lister.

I've worked with various screenwriters who have written an entire spec and then
through the process discovered a character or an idea that was worthy of further
exploration. They have no issue discarding the screenplay and beginning a new
one based on their new discoveries.

Other writers submit their completed works and while they await feedback from
their representatives or the market itself, they begin work on the next screenplay.

Is it easy? No. It's not supposed to be easy. If it were easy everyone would be
doing it.

Being prolific has numerous benefits. Beyond amassing an inventory of material
and developing a necessary habit, I believe you hone, shape and refine your skills
as a screenwriter.

I know many industry professionals who would agree with literary manager Jewerl
Ross, who said “I sell writers, not scripts.” He expects his clients to generate
content, to be prolific. Three to four screenplays a year is the minimum.

With these criteria in mind, let's bring all of this back to you. While not everyone
can be Stephen King, are you at least setting the table for your success? I've said
this before, but this is an industry where talent alone won't carry you across the
threshold to screenwriting stardom.

Instead, it takes that rare combination of talent, passion, and joyful hard work.
In other words, being prolific. My hope is that you have already incorporated this
necessary screenwriting trait into your writing routine, or you see the value in it
and will start applying it immediately.


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