Well, now that you’re a part of this bande à part, you might need a little help getting grounded. Luckily, screenwriter, script doctor, and consultant Mark Sanderson, also known as Scriptcat, has compiled 10 questions that he believes all aspiring screenwriters should ask themselves. Here are a few from the list:
Do you have an artist’s mentality?
You have to be absolutely cuckoo bananas to aspire to be this line of work, because chances are you’re going to fall flat on your face. Does that sound harsh? Well, it is, damn it! It’s hard to succeed as a screenwriter, which is why having the mentality of an artist is so crucial to your mental and emotional health. You’re facing so much negativity — rejection, criticism, complete and utter failure — so you’re going to need the strength to withstand it all. Not to mention the fact that you’re more likely to see a flying typewriter than a decent paycheck. Steel yourself and keep writing. Success only comes to those who do.
Hollywood is full of good ideas and the winning formula is: good idea + execution of good idea = amazing viable screenplay.
Do you overwrite?
Okay, maybe your reader doesn’t need to know that your protagonist is left-handed, loves the smell of wet asphalt, and owns a table that is made of really nice mahogany that he bought for sale at the Really Nice Mahogany Table Store. Why? Producers and executives don’t really care. It’s a good idea to keep these kinds of details, as well as actions, to a minimum. That doesn’t mean you have to make your script boring and stale, just get to the point.
Have you accepted this fact: Screenwriting is all about execution and rewriting?
What’s that saying — screenwriters don’t ever finish a screenplay, they just give up. That’s because stories go through so many stages, changes, and iterations during the writing process that they’re never really done. They’re — alive. This might come as unpleasant news for those who just finished their first draft and thought, “Yes! I’m finally done! My dream is complete!” No — you’re not, and it’s not. There has never been a perfect first draft. Ever. EVER! Not only should you expect to rewrite your original draft a handful of times before it ever gets seen by another pair of eyeballs, you should also expect to rewrite if it gets optioned and goes into production. We might as well just start calling screenwriting “rewriting” since that’s what it really is.