One of the sad truths about trying to make it as a screenwriter is that it’s an extremely frustrating process.
On certain days, the frustration feels like it extends to the uppermost part of the outer edge of the stratosphere. To the nth degree.
What is it about screenwriting that people who don’t do it think it’s easy? If you’re reading this, it’s more than likely you’ve given it a go, or at least know somebody who has, so you know full well that it most definitely is not.
We even try to warn those who think hammering out a first draft in a few weeks is a guaranteed million dollar paycheck. This is a long and arduous road, we say, but they don’t let that stop them. A legion of the truly unaware who will discover the scary truth soon enough.
Those of us who are fully committed (an apt phrase if ever there was one) finish the latest draft, then edit, rewrite and polish it so many times it enters well into double digit territory, hoping our writing and storytelling skills are improving with each new attempt.
But how do we know if that’s even happening?
We ask friends and trusted colleagues for feedback. We pay for professional analysis. The script gets reworked yet again.
We hope this newest draft is light years ahead of all of its previous incarnations in terms of quality, but sometimes it’s tough to be able to recognize if that’s the case. At least for me, anyway.
Whenever I send somebody a script for critiquing, I always say “Thanks for taking a look. Hope you like it.”
I know the script isn’t perfect – maybe even far from it, which is why I ask for help. Part of me knows it’s good, but can be better. It’s being able to identify the latter that gives me trouble. I’m so deeply embedded in a story that it’s tough to step back and be objective. Maybe I can not look at it for a few weeks, but even then it’s tough to look at it with fresh eyes.
Follow-up notes will tell me what they liked and what they feel needs work. There will be a fair mix of stuff I should have already figured out and some “How could I have missed that?” surprises.
So back I go into rewrite mode, hoping for improvement for both the material and myself, still not knowing if that improvement is there until I undergo the entire process all over again.
Or at least somebody tells me.