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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated 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

Dch, I post my scripts at Inktip and would like to know if you have any advice about how to write a good introductory?

Wanting to know in Florida

This week's Answer: 


I appreciate your question, Wanting to Know.  Let me start my reply with the words that make me cringe when I read them in a query or introduction:  ENJOY THE READ.  Urghhhh!

I actually receive submissions from screenwriters by various ways, including Inktip.  And screenwriters make cardinal mistakes, which will turn off a producer faster than they can type the words, "FADE OUT."  Or more apt words would be "SMASH CUT" because that's how fast and hard they can lose PI (Producer Interest).                                                                                         

Mistake number one:  Telling the producer, in so many words, what a great choice the producer will be making if he chooses the writer's script, and giving him the reasons why.

Mistake number two:  Telling the producer how to produce the writer's script and informing him about such things such as demographics, casting choices, recent popular films like the writer's script, budgetary and production needs.

Mistake number three:  (The narcissistic trap) Bragging about his past successes and mentioning or indicating how lucky the producer will be to join the writer on his voyage to the stars.

Mistake number four:  (The film critic trap) Telling the producer how to react to the writers' script, such as telling him how funny it is.  (As soon as a screenwriter tells me how funny his comedy is, I immediately have an urge to not see the material as funny and here my internal voice say, "Okay, make me laugh."  One of the major abilities that most successful comedians share is that they don't laugh at themselves -- and let the audience do the laughing.  So, let the producer do the laughing. (hopefully all the way to the bank if he chooses your script for production).  In fact, let the producer make ALL the decisions; let HIM produce.  Geeesh! 

(*Already, if you noticed I'm used two exclamations, urghhh and geeesh, which should tell you how strongly I am reacting to these writers' mistakes. Gawwwwd! There's another one.)

Mistake number five (Posturing).  Snobbishness, superiority, condescending... the "I know the business" speak... all death knells for me (unless, of course, the screenwriter has his own company like Pompous Productions.  Then I get it.)

What a writer needs to understand is that it's not just what's on the page.  Movies only start with the screenplay.  It's a long trek.  And if a producer is in a project, on another journey to MovieOz, he's going to want his Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man, to be people he likes and gets along with.  Even, preferably, people he likes. (Nobody wants to see a flying monkey at the catering table at 7:00 in the morning.)

You know who my favorite screenwriters are who approach me when I'm in search of scripts for production?  The humble ones.  The ones who don't go into a lot fluff or hot air or misdirection.  They contact me and inform me they have a script, giving me the log line. They might tell me a little more about themselves or the script, but they do it succinctly and don't expect me to read a treatise on them or their works.  

And they thank me for my time and attention.  When that happens, I feel an immediate connection with the writer and find myself wanting to read his/her material soon and, even more importantly, wanting to like the script.  I'll say that again.  Yes, there is a natural urge that comes to me to want to like the script.  It's positive prejudice.  I'm already leaning in the writer's direction.

I hope my words on this subject have been helpful and that...

you enjoyed the read.


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