Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's complicated

Writing is hard.

I worked so hard over the last bazillion years I've been at this to get some good scripts written. I wrote stuff that was actiony, not really worrying about attracting talent. I figured if I just wrote an awesome character, the actors would come.

I have new respect for writers who get commercial scripts produced.

I just wrote an outline for my newest idea. I took a long time with it, really put a lot of thought into it, got a solid document written and sent it off to my rep. I finally got a story with a late twenties male white protag who is good looking and talented and put him with a hot love interest. The problem is, I have a small story, and I spend almost as much time with the antagonists as with the protag. Before, when I was writing for the reader, that wouldn't have been an issue. But now I'm not writing for the reader. My stuff is getting past the reader. I'm kind of writing for the producer, but really at this point, I'm writing for A-List Star. This outline I just did? Not good enough for A-List Star.

At first I was really frustrated. I need to do another outline? And for a minute I panicked. This is the second outline. Am I terrible? Is everyone going to abandon me now that I can't produce the right script? This is the end and now I have to kill myself.

I'm very melodramatic when I get notes. Then I shake my head and get back to work.

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I got it. I know actors. They love being the center of attention, and they love looking cool. If I want A-List Actor on board, I have to make him look cool a lot. And big and important.

So now I'm back to the drawing board, trying to figure out how to make a story about a late-twenties hot white male who is cool and also in almost every scene. Plus explosions and fight scenes and a love interest and somewhere in there, a motherfucking plot.

This shit is hard.


  1. Hard Shit, indeed.

    But you are now writing at a higher level of hard shit. Way to Go!

    As you move up each rung on the ladder you go past approximately 90% of your fellow rungers. (Yes, I made that up) The key point is your statement that you are now past the readers; you have a new audience. The new audience has a chequebook (Yes, I'm Canadian)
    Awesome and thanks for sharing.


  2. Very true. It's frustrating, but at least I know where the end game is.

  3. I thought that it was kinda dumb - especially when the few A-listers that are not white and/or female, have to fight for those spots (Training Day, Salt) or get scripts rewritten to fit them. Then I was taught "how else will you lure an A-lister (young or old) unless you can see/hear them live in that role? Not like you're becoming an auteur that writes just for particular actors but it's just another angle for you... Say seeing Zac Efron or Donald Glover, even one/two of the WB actors chew up your dialogue? Live in your protag's shoes?

    Hard. Complicated. Telling the truth. It's worth it right?

  4. I recently spoke a screenwriter friend of mine. He told me "when you start your next script, write something for an attractive white male in his late 20s". I didn't have the heart to tell him that my next script is about a 23 year old female escort and that the love interest is a 30 year old, pencil-pushing geek.

    I'm torn between either working this story (I think it's a strong concept, action-packed, funny), or tabling it and trying to work one of my ideas that has a handsome white male protagonist...

    Any thoughts on this? My instincts tell me to go with my strongest work, and I think this one is it.

    As always, thanks for the great blog and congrats on your continuing success!!

  5. But, why do half of the scripts on the blacklist not even fit that mold?

    Why aren't you writing in the mold that got the reps interested in you in the first place?

  6. I'm not worried about the Black List. I'm trying to get a sale. Your chances of getting a sale are better if you can attach a star, and there are more stars in the white male late twenties / early thirties category than in any other category. It's just playing the numbers.

    I've been writing action comedies. Now I have to write a specific type of action comedy. I always knew this day would come, but kept putting it off.

    I write action comedy. Sooner or later I'm going to have to write for a male protagonist anyway. I need to prove that I can.

    It's all strategery.

  7. Cool. No worries. Just wondering if that was forcing you out of your comfort zone a bit... I just noticed that even great writers like Shane Black, that Juno writer, Jeff Boam still have their go to type niches... do you find writing the male protagonist any different than your previous scripts?

    Btw, have you read the Disciple Program?

  8. You mean Diablo Cody?

    It's always a little more difficult for me to write a male protag, but if I couldn't do it I shouldn't write action films. I do actually have to approach it differently.

    I've read Disciple Program. It was well written. Good for Tyler and good luck to him.

  9. You'll get there... it's like when I had to learn how to hit with my backhand in tennis...at first it was strange, but after having to serve it a million times, it's actually my strong suit now.

    For action films, I always like the ones with protags with major atttiutde like the Shane Black movies....or ones with an interesting story like True Lies.


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