How to Sell Your Screenplay Author: Carl Sautter Table of Contents Preface CHAPTER ONE AN INTRODUCTION CHAPTER TWO HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FIRST BREAK CHAPTER THREE THE BASICS OF SCREENWRITING CHAPTER FOUR FEATURE FILMS CHAPTER FIVE WHAT DO FEATURES LOOK FOR? CHAPTER SIX PRIMETIME EPISODIC TELEVISION CHAPTER SEVEN HOW TO DO A SPEC SCRIPT FOR EPISODIC TV CHAPTER EIGHT OTHER PRIMETIME TELEVISION CHAPTER NINE ALTERNATIVE MARKETS, PART I CHAPTER TEN ALTERNATIVE MARKETS, PART II CHAPTER ELEVEN ALTERNATIVE MARKETS, PART III CHAPTER TWELVE HOW TO WRITE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE CHAPTER THIRTEEN IT'S DONE, NOW WHAT? CHAPTER FOURTEEN FOUR ESSENTIAL SCREENWRITING SKILLS CHAPTER FIFTEEN SURVIVAL AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS CHAPTER SIXTEEN CONCLUSION APPENDICES A. SPECIAL FORMATS B. THE WRITERS GUILD C. GLOSSARY OF TERMS IN THE BUSINESS D. RESOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX Description An Emmy Award nominee and former Moonlighting story editor gives smart, timely inside information on how to successfully market a film or TV screenplay in this handy guide. Excerpt For a new writer, selling that first script is the hardest step in building a career, although most writers will say that every step is hard. There's no question that one sale under the belt does wonders for self- confidence. You are not just another of the 200,000 people in Los Angeles peddling unsold material; suddenly, you are a contender.The truth is, the hardest step in becoming a screenwriter is writing a script that's good. Most of those 200,000 would-be writers are peddling bad material. And the percentages for selling a bad script are much lower than the chances of selling a good one. Not that everyone who gets paid for writing is good. But they got lucky - and it's a lot easier to get lucky if you're good.HOW DO YOU GET GOOD?1. Research the market in which you're competing. Where is there the least competition for your writing style? Learn to avoid mistakes such as the wrong length, wrong format, duplication of stories, or competing in a market where new writers are not welcome.2. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Find out the style of project that you write best. If you are an actor, you should have an advantage with dialogue — an instinct for the rhythms in which characters speak. If your background is journalism, you're no doubt a good narrative writer; stage directions may come relatively easily.3. Write what you watch. If you are addicted to sitcoms or soaps, those are the markets you should consider. If you're a movie fanatic, that's the market where you have the advantage. If you are a short story buff, look at the anthology shows.4. Write what you know. Ask yourself which stories you can tell that no one else can. Don't pick a story because you think it's what they want, or because it's like the film you saw last week. concentrate instead on stories only you can tell. For example, if you have teenage children, you should have a reservoir of irritating stories to bring to one of the network family shows.5. Don't mistake commercial for sloppy. Never write down to the level of what you perceive film or television to be. There will be plenty of opportunities later in your career to be mediocre; for now, write the best you possibly can.6. Write a lot of projects. Think of each script as a step in the learning process. Learn what you can, then move on to the next one. Becoming employable is a matter of taking basic strengths and skills, studying, and getting better with every script and rewrite. Particularly in the early stages, learn to rewrite what you write, then rewrite that.One of the biggest mistakes a new writer can make is to finish the first project and wait for the offers to roll in. Russ Woody (St. Elsewhere, Murphy Brown) says: "The day I finish a script, I force myself to start on the next one, even if it's only a matter of jotting down a few ideas or lines of dialogue. It helps me let go of what I've written."7. Read a lot of scripts. Scripts read differently than they play. A writer isn't just selling the finished project complete with dazzling performances and intricate camera angles. A writer is selling what is on the page. One of the best ways to write better is to understand what makes a script read well. Writers should read as many different scripts as they can — good, bad, indifferent. This is the specific value of writers' support groups... Author Bio Carl Sautter Carl Sautter has written for the television series Moonlighting and Beverly Hills 90210.
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