I am 22, and success does not happen overnight. What do you think the best way to navigate this path is, other than writing on my own?
The number one important thing, more than anything else, is learning the craft and getting good at it. Good writing isn’t enough, even great writing isn’t enough, if you don’t learn the craft of storytelling.
The craft sets the table for the art. If you’re an artist it’ll come out in everything you do, so don’t worry about the art part, stay like a laser on craft. Fortunately, unlike art, craft can be taught and it can be learned.
Also you need to read enough well-written scripts, well told stories, so that you can figure out what those writers did and how they did it. So that you can internalize and absorb what great writing is, and at the same time you’re learning the nuts and bolts of how to get this effect or that. And the timing and rhythm, all that stuff. You’ll develop an internal clock that tells you when a scene is too long and when to move on. Almost any script you can think of can be found online.
There are also some excellent books that almost all serious screenwriters have read. Maybe you’ve been through a few or all of them. but you have to study the masters. I’ll put a list together for a future post.
All the other stuff: how to get an agent, how to meet the people you’ll need to meet to get your material out there—none of it matters until without a kickass script to show, a compelling story that has a distinct voice. If you don’t have that, then you can meet the top agent in the business and it won’t matter. Your career will already be wounded if you botch a great opportunity with a script that isn’t ready, or isn’t up to the standard that these people are used to getting.
Writers have one job: get people to turn the page. They turn the page because they want to know what happens next. Because they need to know. And you have to believe this, one thousand percent: if you can write a script that makes people do that, then finding someone to read it will never be the problem we all think it is in the beginning.
Which means don’t blow your shot by not being ready for it. No matter what people say, first impressions last. If someone gives you their time, and you don’t have your shit together, that’s what they’ll remember and it won’t be to your advantage.
So. Study the masters. Put in the hours and get good at this. really, really good. The hardest meanest gatekeepers out there, they’ll roll right over when they read someone who has a real voice and knows what to do with it. The only thing you can control is how good you get. And then how much better. Do that and I guarantee the other stuff will fall into place.
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