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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 (often with a humorous eye) 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: 

I've had so many scripts rejected, DcH and I'm losing the "drive," so to speak.  I could use some advice about how to get back on the horse.

Stephan 


This week's answer: 

Rejecting Rejection

I can see your problem, Stephan.  Here you are losing your drive, but you're trying to get on a horse.  It's very hard to drive a horse.  They ride much better.   Well, they don't ride.  Horses are ridden.  But normally not driven.  Although, I guess you could drive a horse crazy.   

But let's get back to you getting back on the horse.  Or, even better, let's get back to  your drive -- which you seem to have lost.  What is or was the extent of your original drive?  Was your mission statement clear?   (And I'm not talking about your testimonial about missions.)  What I mean is "Did you have a specific goal regarding your screenwriting?"  According to the beginning words of your question, it appears that your goal had something to do with selling a screenplay.  I'm going to assume you've already crossed that first bridge and have written a screenplay or several screenplays (which could be separate bridges and one for each screenplay, but, for this purpose, we'll assume all the screenplays you've written will be represented by just one bridge).  My question is, if your goal was absolutely clear, then has that goal changed or now simply become unclear?

The drive emanates from your desire to achieve that goal.  You need to bring that goal closer to you, make it more real for you, so you'll feel the desire for it again.  Chances are you've let the "desire flame" go out and need to fan it or never really built it up enough in the first place.  Connect ideas and consequences to your aim.  Bring feeling into your imagery.  (Wait.  Somehow this became a visualization class.  Well, what the heck.  There's nothing wrong with using your imagination another way than the way you used it when you wrote your script.  That is, if you did actually write your script and crossed that first bridge.  (I guess you could have written the script and not crossed a bridge and waded across or climbed a rope or just jumped.)

Remember, rejection is in the eyes of the "rejectee."  Not in the eyes of the "rejecter."  The discipline is to keep your focus on what you want, not what you don't want.  (I really think we've stumbled into that class again.)  Regarding rejection, it's not what you want (unless... that's what you want).  So why focus on rejection?!  What do you want?  Assuming you've crossed the aforementioned bridge or waded across or climbed a rope or just jumped or shot yourself across in a canon, you want to sell a script.  That's what you want to concentrate your energies on.  And listen to this... (Well, you can't really listen because I'm not really talking.  But you get the idea.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  The dramatic ellipsis.)... Unless you've somehow gone against natural law or somehow are swimming upstream against the space/time continuum, if you persist, you will achieve your goal.  The problem, in basic terms, is that you forget this truth over and over again.  In fact, you not only forget it, but...

YOU APPLY THE OPPOSITE

without even knowing it.  There's no neutrality when it comes to your goal.  As Yoda says, "There's no try.  Only do or not do."  Or something Yoda-ish like that.  You're always, and I mean "always," either moving towards or away from your goal of selling a screenplay.  Which means all you really have to do is stay aware of what direction you're in at any particular time and make any necessary adjustments.

And being specific about your screenwriting goals (or any type of goals) is necessary.  You could ask yourself questions such as:

1.  How soon do I want to sell a screenplay?  (Five years from now when the dollar might be stronger?  Or how about now?)

2.  How much money do you want to be paid for the sale?  (More than five dollars?  A million?  

3. What kind of producer do you want to buy your script?  (A well-known, successful one?  Your brother-in-law who's always wanted to get into the "flicks"?)

4. Do you want your script to be produced?  (Or do you just want to sell it and have it put on a shelf and gather dust instead of audiences?)

5. Where do you want the movie based on your script to be distributed?  (Theatrical screening?  Straight to DVD?  Television?  Gorilla street theatre?)

It helps to be specific.

DcH

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