Not everybody’s going to like it

Astonishing as it is, some people actually don’t like pie. Heathens.

Notes and comments continue to come in for the comedy spec. I’m seeing some very insightful stuff that will prove most beneficial for the next draft.

Reactions range from “I loved it!” to “I was very disappointed with this.” The author of the latter even started things out by saying “I wanted to like it, but just couldn’t. I guess our senses of humor are just too different”.

And you know what? They’re right, and that’s totally fine. Comedy is subjective. Everybody likes different things. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you.

Would I have preferred they liked it? Of course. But they didn’t, and that’s all there is to it. I still value their opinion and will continue to ask them for feedback in the future.

But I also shouldn’t totally disregard what they had to say. They made some valid points and suggestions in their explanation of why it didn’t work for them, a lot of which could potentially be applied to the aforementioned rewrite.

Nor should I take one person’s rejection as the final word. They didn’t like it, but in no way does that mean everybody else will have the same opinion. For all I know, this one dislike is the exception to the rule.

This is one of those things that a lot of writers, especially newer ones, fail to grasp. You slave away on a script, and then you send it out, convinced it’s a work of genius. And you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for. PASS. Thanks, but no thanks. We’re working with something similar.

Heartbreaking, ain’t it? “How could they not have liked it?” you cry out to the writing gods. It’s just the way it is. Remember – it’s not about you. It’s about the script.

So you’ve got two choices. Obsess over the rejection, or accept it, put it behind you, and keep pushing forward. Maybe figuring out why their reaction was negative could help.

But don’t let that negative slow you down. Do what you can to turn things to your advantage. Like with practically everything connected to screenwriting, it won’t be easy.

Start by making sure you like it, and then take it from there.

They didn’t say no

If you’re going to look at the glass as half-full, why not have it at least be something worth drinking?

An encouraging bit of news from the ongoing quest for representation.

A new management firm had contacted me, and asked to read some of my scripts. I sent the western and the fantasy-adventure, then worked really hard on not thinking about it. Refocusing my attention on other scripts proved to be the most effective.

A few weeks went by, and I sent the obligatory follow-up. “Haven’t got to them yet,” was the response. “Check back in a few weeks.” Back I dove into gettin’ stuff done.

A few more weeks pass. Another follow-up inquiry. “Halfway through the fantasy. Really like it. Will be in touch.” Nothing wrong with that.

Another few weeks, and another follow-up. “Battling a nasty head cold. Hard to read and stay focused.”

At this point, you’d think common sense would have prevailed and I should accept that this was all building up to a rejection. But for some reason, it didn’t seem that way.

The person was still responding, and I was making a point of not being pushy. Even after relaying this story to a few writer chums, the general consensus was “You’re just wasting your time. They’re just letting you down easy.” Again, this felt different.

I’m a stubborn sort, especially when it comes to getting a career going, so I waited another week and sent one more follow-up.

They explained things had been taking so long because they currently didn’t have any solid connections with prodcos doing family movies (which this script could be considered), and weren’t sure where else they could take it – for now. They also asked me to keep them updated if anything happens with it somewhere else.

They had high praise for my writing and firm grasp of story and structure, and added that they still had a big pile of other scripts to get through, so it might be a while before they got to the western. The message ended with “thanks for your patience”.

I wrote back, thanking them for the update (adding that the writing for the western is stronger than that in the fantasy) and that I’d be in touch several weeks down the road. They were cool with all of it.

While this didn’t exactly yield the results I was hoping for, it also didn’t end like the many that have come before it. The person liked my writing, and always got back to me, which is definitely more than has happened with others.

There were lots of times throughout this whole process I was convinced I would receive an email with the inevitable “thanks, but no thanks”, but that never happened. After all this, I’d still consider what happened as a positive thing.

It may not be quite “back to the drawing board”, but it reinforces my belief that good things are fast approaching. In the meantime, I’ve got a few more scripts requiring my attention.

-On a semi-related note, screenwriting consultant Bill Boyle will be holding his workshop How To Sell Your Screenplay From Anywhere on Wednesday April 27 from 7-10pm at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Among the topics to be covered will be Industry Access, Marketing Tools, Script Protection, and Legal Aspects. Registration is $75, and at last check there were only 12 slots left, so don’t delay! For more details, email Bill at

-One more thing. I ran the SF Rock & Roll Half-marathon this past Sunday. Many hills were involved. 1:58:09.

Hey! Long time no (preferred form of communication)

A hard-at-work pre-Internet server keeping things up and running

There’ve been several previous posts here regarding the benefits and necessity of networking. It can’t be stressed enough how incredibly helpful and effective it can be, especially if you’re not in Los Angeles or somewhere you don’t have a lot of in-person access to other writers.

But it’s not enough to just make a connection. An effort needs to be made by at least one of you (most likely you) to maintain that connection and keep it healthy. And it’s not as hard as you might think.

While it can be extremely easy and tempting to get sucked into the never-ending rabbit hole of the internet, designate a portion of your non-writing time to be just as productive and try to get some networking stuff done.

Are you connected to another writer in your area, but you’ve never actually met in person? Ask them if they’re up for a get-to-know-you coffee or lunch chat.

If you’re limited to online communication, send them an email or tweet asking how they’re doing, and how their latest projects are coming along. Be helpful, or at least offer to help. They might just take you up on it.

*Important – if it’s been a while since you’ve been in touch, don’t start things off by straight-out asking for something. Would you want someone to do that to you? Didn’t think so.

If something good (career or otherwise) has happened for them, send a note of congratulations. Likewise, if something not-so-good has happened, express your sympathies accordingly.

Cliched as it may sound, keeping the lines of communication open really can help you out. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have established strong relationships with several local writers and filmmakers, and exchanged notes with writers scattered across the globe.

I reconnected with a consultant I hadn’t been in touch with for several months, and that conversation led to them offering up coverage (which I still paid for) that proved to be quite helpful.

A writer I know who works in TV and film emailed me, wanting to discuss her latest concept because she thought I was a good match for it.

None of these would have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to keep each relationship going. Rather than taking a “how can you help me?” approach, I go in with the mindset of “maybe I can help you?”

One of the things you hear so often when it comes to establishing a screenwriting career is “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I’ve found both parts to be true. You definitely have to know what you’re doing in terms of craft and writing ability, but it’s equally important to establish and maintain solid, professional relationships with as many people as you can.

Because you never know who’s going to suddenly be a person of influence willing to help you out because you did the same for them.

So here’s your voluntary assignment:

1. Contact five of your connections.
2. Ask them how things are going.
3. Take it from there.

Good luck!

Rather apropos for today

laughing crowd
Go ahead. Make me laugh.

Feedback is starting to trickle in for the latest draft of the comedy spec. So far, reviews are favorable. It’s still very rough around the edges, but confidence is running high heading into the next rewrite.

It’s very encouraging to have more than one person tell you “I actually laughed out loud. More than once!” That counts as a win in my book.

So in keeping with the comedy theme, here’s a question for you:

Someone asks for your recommendation for an underrated comedy. Preferably one they’ve never heard of.

I’d go with GOON. Quite a nice surprise. Bonus points if you know anything about or have an appreciation of hockey.

What’s your pick?