Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So after I forget how long of working on it - like a million years, I think - I'm calling Not Dead Yet officially ready for human consumption. The original version was okay, but now with the rewrite and the help of a mysterious friend, it's considerably better - better to the point where I feel confident sending it out.

I have two connections who are willing to read it and actually have the ability to get it sold or sent out as a work sample, so I sent it off to them. Of course I'm all confident and happy and love my script and - OH MY GOD I THINK THERE'S A TYPO ON PAGE 75!

It's this weird thing where no matter how much validation or confidence you have, the second you hit "send" on the email you start to freak out and wonder if you should have changed that one word on that one page to something more interesting. And what about the story? Should I have killed more people? Is the dialogue too on the nose? Is it not clear enough?

I started to go through the script again and worry that maybe I should have taken some of the advice I decided against, but then I remembered what a friend of mine read me yesterday. She read me this post from Billy Mernit's blog and I began to breathe.

He says that the most important thing in a script is for you to get the reader to identify with the main character. Even if the writing is not as crisp and clean as the gurus say, do you get involved emotionally? Do you care? Then it's a good script.

The same friend who read me that is a writer of Romcoms. I said I'd like her to read my script because if she likes my zombie script then I know it's a good script because she's not over the moon about zombies. And she said "What do you want me to look for as I read?"

And I said, "If you stop reading, tell me why."

Really that's all there is to it. A script is good if you like it. There are ways to work on your writing style and word choices and all that specific stuff they teach you in class, but in the end if a script keeps you awake and makes you want to read the next page, that's all that matters. That doesn't mean you shouldn't give a shit about grammar and form and the rest because those things are all part of making a script more readable - plus there's so much ambiguity in screenwriting already, why not do the one thing you know you can get right? But the key is always the story.

I know my story is good. And once in a writer's group meeting another group member told me that in my pharmacy scene he really thought my protagonist was going to die and he was worried.

Well that's all you really need, isn't it? If he actually thought I was about to kill my lead and he didn't want her to die? I'm satisfied with that.

So I'm just going to have to remember that when I hit "send" on the email to that William Morris agent the Beefcake knows.

[EDIT] I'm not actually trying to prove I have confidence by having someone read my script and tell me whether or not it's good. Having confidence means you don't need someone to tell you if it's good. You already know it is.


  1. How confident are you, really? I can't offer any advice. I'm barely able to craft my own shit, and I don't like or watch zombie or horror movies, but let's have read.

  2. So... you want me to send you my script so that you can see whether or not I suck?

  3. good luck, but you're gonna be fine. I'm also too scared to let anyone read my novel (I have to edit it first), but yeah. I hate that awful feeling I get in my stomach when I let people read my "serious" works... I keep worrying whether I have to go back and change something, too.

    but GOOD LUCK WITH WMA!!!!

  4. Emily, Emily, Emily. I would never tell you, you suck. I have no business judging whether or not you suck. I'm a novice who's barely started my first screenplay. Only you know if you suck. I'll be in LA next month. I'll buy you a coffee. C'mon, let's have a go.

  5. I'd like to read your script. But I'm pretty sure you don't suck.

    I am biased toward zombie movies though.

  6. "If you stop reading, tell me why."

    That might very well be the best notes advice ever.

  7. "If you stop reading, tell me why."

    Like Josh said, this was probably some of the best advice ever. Just be confident. Until i actually finished a comedy i was writing i didn't want anyone reading it, because i was scared of the negative comments to disrupt my writing. But i had it read after the draft was done though, for some quick advice...

    visit my blog if you have a chance for any opinions or feedback: http://screenplayj.blogspot.com

  8. if you send it to me, you know I'll be honest.


  9. Responding to your edit:

    That's a weird way to take what I said. I like reading scripts and I give good, honest feedback.

    Your loss, as far as I'm concerned. I've read and given feedback (that was used) on several "in production" scripts for friends of mine.

  10. A response to your response:

    Why did you think I was talking about you?

  11. "Having confidence means you don't need someone to tell you if it's good. You already know it is. "

    There is also a downside to that belief.

  12. Not just me in particular.

  13. What's interesting about that, Matt, is that I was not even thinking about you at all when I made that edit.


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