Thursday, June 5, 2008

Leave it in the oven!

Reader Scott wrote in to suggest that perhaps the blog has focused too much on entering contests and not enough on writing a good script. In a way, that's on purpose; I feel like there are already a zillion books, blogs, classes, etc. that can teach you about structure, dialogue, characters, that sort of thing. I figured it was a given that you need a good script (or three); I'm more about the THEN WHAT? question. But he makes a good point.

The following metaphor is brought to you by the fact that my pilot light's out and all I can think about is that I have all the materials needed to make cornbread and my roommate has all the materials needed to make a bluberry pie. IRONY'S A BITCH.

So, it's the night before that contest or fellowship deadline. You're scrambling to finish your script, register it with the WGA, find a 24-hour copy store and track down a notary. And where are your brads??? You're staring into the oven, the rich blueberry aroma filling your crappy Valley apartment. You know it needs a little more time, but all you ate today was a bagel and a grape leftover from the MP Lit staff meeting and an alarming amount of Diet Coke. Sweet, soft pastry...surely it must be ready...

NO! LEAVE IT IN THE OVEN!

End metaphor. You get what I'm saying? I know how eager you are to win that contest and start your career, but try your best to patient. Your script might still be gooey in the middle. We all do it - we're so excited to have finally finished the pilot or spec or whatever, that we want to send it out to everyone and their brother. But try to hold back. Send it to your writer's group or other trusted readers, get some notes, let them percolate for a while, and then write your next draft. My ninth grade English teacher used to say, "write hot, revise cold." And I think it's excellent advice. Write with all the passion your inspiration brings, and then rewrite when you can be tough and objective about it. Make sure that script is polished and the best it can be before you start sending it out as the representation of who you are and what you can do.

Bookmark and Share

7 comments:

Lisa said...

Awesome advice! I can't tell you how impatient I've been to send things out. And then I realize, I need to concentrate on that script, and only that script. There will always be a contest to enter, but what's the point if I'm not sending my best? Good post! And now I'm craving some blueberry pie...

adam _______________________ said...

Yes. Yeah. ....yeah. Nnnngh. I'm starting to fear I'll be at that oven-gazing moment come the end of this month. It riles me like goddamn West Hollywood parking ticket.

I hope I won't be oven-gazing by the end of next month. I really really do.

And personally, I'd be more interested in the cornbread. :)

dup said...

I've also heard it as "Compose drunk and revise sober."

Trevor said...

I don't agree with Scott. Your approach is useful because not all of us live in LA, or work as an agent's assistant. Personally I'm more interested in the THEN WHAT? question, and I think that's why your blog is interesting.

Trevor said...

just to clarify - I didn't mean that this post wasn't interesting. i just mean that you shouldn't let people criticize the way you're doing things, since obviously you wouldn't have gained such a large readership if you needed to do things differently!

evanshaffer said...

It should be worth noting that these contests aren't the end-all-be-all of what will start a writing career. I've lived in Los Angeles for almost five years and have met at least a hundred working writers. Only one of them got her start in a program such as these (currently writing on a top ten show). The avenues to success, and methods by which one proceeds to answer the THEN WHAT question are incredible in number, and I never hear the same answer. I know it's that time of year of submissions times that places such an emphasis on these programs. We should remember that one's worth as a writer should not be gauged by entry to programs whose odds of success are comparable to state lotteries but -- as stated in this blog entry -- the quality of the work you create and the enjoyment you reap from its creation.

commonplace said...

you just described my life right now.

i was this close to submitting a big mess of raw dough.

big fan of the blog, by the way. =)