Planning For Ultimate Success As A Screenwriter
Planning for ultimate success as a screenwriter is not unlike planning a heist, or an escape from prison. It requires tremendous patience, attention to detail and careful plotting. In THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, Edmond Dantes spends fourteen years in prison. Eight of those years are with the Abbe Faria, learning language, culture, math, chemistry, medicine and science. Dantes emerges from the Chateau d’If armed with the tools he needs to enact his revenge.
Planning for success in screenwriting is not dissimilar. It’s the long game, and this has never been truer than today, in the age of the coronavirus. Another great example to look at is Disney+, which had to step into a streaming arena already dominated by other players.
Disney+ brought a massive library to bear, but essentially only one high-profile new scripted series. Just one. But that show is THE MANDALORIAN. The overwhelming majority of people who see it, like it. It drove chatter on social media endlessly. The Baby Yoda plush toy was released not long after.
Directly related to this was the news that Disney+ pushed back their Obi-Wan Kenobi series, brought in new writers, and so on. What Disney+ has done is the same thing screenwriters should do – take the time to have one piece of material that is undeniable.
This is the secret sauce of screenwriting. Any advice about some shortcut around this is false. The problem with trying to do this is that it takes a very long time. It requires many drafts. It requires a level of patience that is tough for anyone.
The coronavirus means physical production is going to be delayed, and while development continues, it’s certainly less urgent. Once production resumes, and things gradually return to a sense of normalcy, the market will flood with material. Original material will be bought in the wake of the coronavirus.
Writers will fling material at that opportune moment. But some, and maybe most writers, will not have had the patience to vet their material, and those writers will lose, ten times out of ten, to the writer who has taken the extra six months to revise and revise their drafts.
Equally important here is patience in picking your concept. A weak concept, even tethered to a great script, is unlikely to be successful. Consider your process. Do people get visibly excited when you share your concept with them? Has feedback from readers (either peers, industry readers, or coverage service readers) been not just positive, but enthusiastically so?
No one likes waiting to get those types of reactions. But doing so is the path to ultimate success as a screenwriter. How are you planning for your success? Let us know in the comments below.