No matter what level of success a writer has achieved, they are always learning.
Or at least they should be.
So far, my western is 0 for 2 in the competitions I’ve entered, at least in terms of making it past the first round.
Once I got past the initial shock and heartbreak, I took a more analytical approach – why was I not getting the results I was hoping for?
The most logical and practical explanation – the script isn’t as perfect as I thought. It needed fixing.
But what to fix?
(I’ve no inflated sense of ability. I know what I’m good and not-so good at, and expertly analyzing a script falls into the latter category)
So I did what any sensible writer would do – I sought out help from those in the know. People who write for a living, or advise other writers on how to improve their material.
I asked if they’d take a look at the script at their convenience, let me know what they thought about it, what worked and what needed work. Constructive criticism, not praise, was my objective.
Let’s not say the results were eye-opening, but more like “oh, I see.”
The two most frequent comments were to trim the page count down (many conceded the current 132, while a very fast read, would initially be off-putting to potentially interested parties) and to flesh out the main character a little bit more.
As I said to one person, tough but not impossible assignments.
My biggest mistake was thinking the script was good to go, when what I should have done at that point was get this kind of advice, make the fixes and then do the whole contest and query circuits. Something to remember for next time.
So for now, another rewrite is in store, which is totally fine. Anything to make it better.
Sometimes it’s too tempting to finish a project and declare it ready. That’s when your internal editor/critic needs to stand up and ask “Are you absolutely sure about that?”
Make sure you listen to them.