Stepping into the arena

That's one way to eliminate the competition (no pun intended)
That’s one way to eliminate the competition (insert rimshot here)

If your inbox is anything like mine, chances are you’ve been getting a lot of emails lately touting the pending deadline of more than a few contests.

For the most part, I usually ignore them. Maybe the Nicholl if I have a script ready, but rarely any others, if any at all.

But a little more confidence in my abilities and encouragement from other writers is making me gradually change my mind.

I’m seriously considering biting the bullet and submitting a script, warts and all, to a few competitions over the next few months.

It’s one of those things every screenwriter should do at least once or twice.

But which ones? There are a lot to choose from, ranging from the obscure to the high-profile.  While there’s nothing wrong with the Brand X Screenwriting Competition, you have to admit it doesn’t carry the same cachet as being a finalist in Austin, PAGE or TrackingB.

Everybody has different criteria for what they’re looking to get out of a particular contest. While a cash prize is nice, most are seen as stepping stones to making industry connections and getting representation.

Some offer script notes – a handful do it for free, but almost all charge extra for it. It’s not something I’d do, but that’s me.

If you’ve decided this is the year you take the plunge, then do your homework and research the ones you’re interested in to find out they have to offer. What kind of reputation do they have? How was the experience for previous entrants and winners? Do the prizes justify the amount of the fee?

No matter which ones you decide on, keep in mind you are going up against a lot of other writers just as eager and ambitious as you. Do you think your script is ready to take them on? Like, REALLY ready?

Even if you have a tiny amount of uncertainty, how much time is there between now and the deadline? Use this to your advantage and give your script an extremely thorough read-through (or two) and fix what needs to be fixed. Nobody likes finding a typo after the fact.

Do whatever you can to make your script ready to go, cross your fingers when you hit ‘submit’ and hope for the best.  How long you wait until getting back to your current project is up to you.

Good luck.