Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » Introduction

I felt inspired to put this book together after I came across the following anonymous posting on an Internet screenwriting bulletin board. The seemingly tragic cyberspace plea came from a young, aspiring screenwriter unsure if he should continue to take his first wary steps into the writing world. He called his posting "Pointless Dream"…

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to this newsgroup and, having followed the threads over the past few weeks, I have a question.

From what I have observed here some people seem to have been quite successful in following their 'dream' of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter, others have become successful in their dream of selling their spec script, etc.. Others seem to be very cynical about the whole process.

My question is therefore - 'Is it really worth starting this in the first place, (i.e. trying to write a screenplay for the Hollywood market.), if it appears to be so pointless and fraught with rejection? Or, to be more precise, is it possible to be an unknown 'Joe' in a backwater town one year and, a year or so later, to have actually sold a script to 'Hollywood'?'

For some reason, there seems to be many people around who think that you have too be somehow 'special' to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter. I would have thought hard work, a good idea and some talent would be all one needs. Or, do you still have to dress up in kinky leather and rubber gear and sleep with the 'right people'? :-)

Well, I don't know about that last part, and will feel perfectly comfortable never knowing (thank you very much), but the message speaks to the anxiety and disappointment aspiring writers experience before they enter the Hollywood writing arena and during their early forays into that world.

Over the last seven years, I wrote for a series of magazines catering to the screenwriter. Many of those assignments dealt directly with the challenges faced by writers putting together their first or second script and facing the marketplace for the first time. I rewrote, updated and compiled a collection of those articles to construct a sort of overview or all-purpose guide to newbie screenwriters.

I tried to consider the writer's issues from a beginner's perspective. What does a script look like? What kind of script should a beginning writer tackle? What kind of behavior should they expect from the marketplace? How do they get an agent? What do agents do? What software should newcomers use to write their scripts? Which of the multiple screenplay conferences should they attend to network and improve their craft? What alternative markets exist for beginning writers? I handle each of those questions in this book as efficiently and neatly as I can while covering such a wide range of topics.

Did I tackle every possible question a beginning writer could ask? I doubt it. I never intended to do so. But, perhaps I helped to answer the most important questions a writer could ask before settling to write that first screenplay? What can I expect from life as an aspiring film or TV scribbler? Is this an existence I want? I can't answer those for every individual reading this, but I hope to feed beginners enough information to make the choice for themselves.

As for the mysterious writer of that plaintive post, I can only urge him or her not to give up because it is not a lost cause. If you care enough about the writer's quest to compose passionate e-mails protesting the struggles we each must face to see our words make it to the page and screen, you probably have enough dedication to plow through as a professionals writer. It's not hopeless. It is difficult. However, who said the movie business was all cake and cookies?

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