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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

My heart really isn't in a screenplay I'm considering writing, but I know it will have a better chance to sell.  Should I write it?

Anne Cole


This week's Answer: 

Write What Sells You

Well, Anne, we screenwriters all cross this bridge at one time or another in our careers.  Sometimes the bridge is just a little wooden one over a murmuring creek.  Other times, it's the Golden Gate Bridge over an extensive bay that takes a little longer to cross than the creek one.  The analogy is that it may be a short or a long process to come to grips with how commercialism affects your screenwriting, and, if it does (which most screenwriters find it does), to what degree.

One way of looking at the question is to ask yourself another one:  "Can I see myself in this screenplay?  (Now, I know you said your heart isn't in the screenplay and I hope your meaning isn't literal.  And, for that matter, I hope none of your literal organs are actually in your screenplay.  Not to say that wouldn't catch a producer's eye.  But it could influence your ability to literally write it.)  What I'm referring to in the second question is whether or not you can relate enough to the material to give it the required energy and originality to make it worth creating?  Birthing a screenplay takes a concerted effort and demands a persistence (just ask any mother who has given birth to a nine-pound baby screenplay) all of which can really only be supported by an initial true desire to write it.  Can you see yourself enjoying creating the screenplay?  Or does it already look like an arduous chore even before you've started it?  If you're not excited about the idea of writing the screenplay, how excited or driven or committed do you think you're going to be when you're  actually writing it?  For example, I need to finish this article and don't feel creative or original or enthused as I "actually write it."  And, now that I look back at the time before I started writing it (which was about six long minutes ago), I didn't feel very energized by the idea.  And am even less so now.  And, now, less than even when I was less so.  In fact, I can barely lift my digits to finish this...................... I really should have thought this through.  I guess I'll just come up with one more sentence that will bear the resemblance of a pithy final remark to denote a conclusion.............. But what will that be?  And I still have to come up with a title for this attempt at writing my column.  Well, here goes nothing:

So there.  (Brilliant!)

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