Entering Screenwriting: How Many Scripts Do I Need?

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Entering Screenwriting: How Many Scripts Do I Need?

How many scripts do you need in your catalogue at any given time as a screenwriter? It’s a short answer. MORE. One of the common pitfalls we see at ScriptArsenal is newer screenwriters come in with one piece of material and just rework that piece of material without generating new, separate material.

To be clear, reworking a piece of material many times is an essential and valuable part of screenwriting. But by the same token, it’s equally important to have many completed screenplays, if your aim is to be a working screenwriter.

Why? If you have one brilliant script, shouldn’t that be enough? In some cases, it is. There are examples of screenwriters with one knockout writing sample that broke in through it and got work from it.

But that’s the exception, not the norm. The more common scenario as a screenwriter is to write a script that gains some traction but does not sell. In that situation, typically the script will generate meetings for the writer.

Those general meetings will almost certainly fall into a pretty straightforward pattern. A near-universal question writers get asked at general meetings is, “What else do you have?” If a producer or executive likes your writing, they’ll want to read more of it.

But most producers have specific mandates they must fill. Let’s say your script is a high-concept horror feature producible for 10 million or under. Even if all your meetings are at horror companies, maybe some of them prefer supernatural horror, and yours is body horror, for example.

Having many completed scripts is the best defense for missed opportunity. A missed opportunity is, “Man, we’d really love to have an elevated genre film like GET OUT” and your response is, “I don’t have that.”

So again, how many completed screenplays should you have? The answer is MORE. If you only have one, write three more. If you have four, set an ambitious goal for your year, and write another four. You can never have too many scripts, because the screenwriting market is a bizarre, amorphous, moving target, and you need as many bullets in the gun as you can get to hit it.

How many scripts do you have in your catalogue?

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