When I’m writing, my emotions tend to vacillate between “Oh, God, how did I ever fool myself into thinking I can write?” and “Why am I so amazing?”

For this reason, I’m not very perspicacious when it comes to judging my own work.  (Why, yes, I do have a word-a-day calendar.  How did you know?)

On the one hand, my favorite script is one my wife hates. On the other, I wrote a short that I thought was just okay, but my friend said, “You have to make this.  Right now.”

So, you never know.

That being said, I’m still surprised when I read a really bad screenplay on  (For those of you unfamiliar with that site, it was created by Kevin Spacey’s company as a kind of social networking website for filmmakers and other artists.  You can post scripts, short films, comic books, and so on.  The hitch is, you have to review someone else’s work first.  It’s a clever way of dissuading freeloaders.)

It’s a great way to put your story out into the world and stand up or fall down on its own merits. But the scripts some people submit just baffle me. I’ve seen stories with huge plot holes, characters that don’t act like people, scenes that ramble on and on, and general grammatical confusion (commas and periods serve very different functions, buddy).

I suppose I should congratulate them simply for completing a very difficult task.  Then again, people say the same thing about soccer (or “metric football“), and you won’t see me going to an LA Galaxy game anytime soon.

Reading a script like that always gives me pause.  Did this guy think he had just written his masterpiece?  Did he really believe this was the great American screenplay?

What does this say about me, when I jump back and think, That’s it!  Don’t touch another word!  Just point the camera at the pages, and it’ll make a hundred million!

Am I as delusional as these guys?

– – –

This has nothing to do with the above, but if you like video games, it’s funny anyway.

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5 Responses

  1. Can’t really trade scripts and maintain the whole anonymity thing. Join Trigger Street, though, and you may run into my secret identity without knowing it. 🙂

  2. i watch KITCHEN NIGHTMARES which is a show where people have disaster restaurants and gordon ramsey shows up and yells at them for an hour and tells them what they’re doing wrong (which is usually very obvious). what i find universal, is just because you like cooking, doesn’t mean you should have a restaurant.

    lots of people like movies but just because you do, doesn’t mean you should be writing them. i saw john august say when people ask how to get into screenwriting he said, “write a screenplay.” people always have ideas and want to pitch but nobody wants to actually do the work. i personally believe a lot of screenwriters get agents and work just because they’ve the tenacity to finish a screenplay that is remotely competent. go to any fan fiction site and read the stuff that is there and it’s amazingly horrible but somebody thought that would make a good BUFFY episode.

    with my writing, i have three people’s opinions i trust on film. i don’t know your wife. you hand her something like POINT BLANK and she’s a PILLOW TALK girl, sure she’s going to hate it.

    if you want someone to trade work with, let me know.

  3. I’m a reader and I feel the same way. I’ll read a script with such obvious mistakes (Yes, your main character has to have a goal, yes he/she has to pursue it.) and I wonder if they’ve ever read a screenwriting book in their life.

  4. You have to take into consideration the feelings you have for your own work when you step away from it and look back on something you wrote a while back. The feeling you get reading it cold like that is most likely how others felt reading it. If you’re like me, that’s usually a mixture of delight and despair.

  5. “Am I as delusional as these guys?” absolutely. no one can know their script will make a 100 mill. 🙂

    but i know what you mean – one trap i know i, and i think many aspiring writers fall into, is believing they’re that much better than everyone else. we have to, because we have to believe there’s a reason we should make it and not someone else.

    otherwise it’s dumb luck or some other metric that we can’t control that has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. and that’s hard to deal with.

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