Screenwriting : When the feedback is poor...and you're not sad. by Joleene Moody

Joleene Moody

When the feedback is poor...and you're not sad.

I just got feedback on the very first screenplay I ever wrote from the very first production company I ever pitched to. All 3's, two 2's. Producer said it was over-written and a slog to get through. Am I sad? Nope. Why? Because I wrote a screenplay. I worked with a few producers to perfect my screenplay. I pitched it to a production company and they liked my pitch well enough to request it. All and all, I would say that's pretty damn good. Ira Glass said of writing, "All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not...It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” I will, Ira. I will. Cheers, fellow writers. :)

Bill Costantini

Good for you for realizing the smell of the coffee. People who attempt to write....I'd categorize them as either realistic or delusional (which applies in all areas of attempting to reach a goal, I'd imagine.) Some people really are able to grok the amount of work before they start or as they go along; pursue the levels of advancement necessary to become a master crafts person; and then understand and pursue the process of interacting with the market place. Some people aren't able to put in the work and don't advance, and then realize that at some point and give up. And some people are just plain wacked, and find fault with any part of that because....well they are just plain wacked and nothing is ever their fault.. Realistic people, though....they understand as they go along that this is quite a long journey....to go from decent to good to better to best....and it's not easy (Bill said in the understatement of the year). I'm always glad when someone is realistic and has the realizations, awareness, and determination that you have, at this stage in your journey. And I know you have a long professional background prior to this, and that I'm not replying to someone who has just the burning desire or romanticized view (or is just plain wacked), and who doesn't have the real aptitude; high level of self-awareness; or real ability. You're doing great, and keep up the great work, Joleene!

Joleene Moody

BILL!!!! (insert series of X's and O's here) Your words are kind. Thank you, thank you. Yeah, you nailed it. This is a process. An ever evolving process. I mean, I got a little verklempt (love that word) for a minute or two, but I'm so damn driven, it isn't funny. I'll get there. We already discussed my age in a previous thread of yours, and I can't help but think I wouldn't have been ready to dive in the dirt before I became old and 44. So here I am now. Thanks again. I appreciate you popping in to cheer me on.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Joleene: Congrats, keep writing and be tenacious as sewer rat.

Brian Smedley

Its like starting out exerciseing, we are way out of shape, so we have to warm up to it. To build good muscle tone, we have to do it little for little. We get stronger when we stay at it. Just like our writing, its going to be hard to lift that weight at first, but once we do it over and over with repetition , our creativity will grow. Sometimes we don't have the energy physically or mentally to attack it everyday, but we need to at least do an attempt, even if it's a couple of paragraphs, then the next day we do 4 pages. So don't get discouraged.

Adam Tester

I had something very similar happen to me recently, and honestly I feel about the same way.

Nicolle Bryant

Congrats to you. Keep up the good work. Your hard work will pay off.

Danny Manus

kudos to any and all writers who aren't delusional or blind to their own progress and shortcomings. it's how you grow. that being said, I would suggest writers wait until they're truly ready before submitting to production companies or reps bc you only get 1 shot with them and they are not supposed to be your guinea pigs. but keep writing, learning and pushing on.

Joleene Moody

@Nicolle, thank you. I will keep going! @Adam, that's awesome, right? We can get discouraged, but this is how it works. Its part of the process. @Brian, spot on. A little a day or a lot. We have to keep going. There is no other way, no shortcuts. @Philip, I love it. @Danny I was ready. And I don't feel like a guinea pig. I'm not the first to be rejected and I won't be the last. This may be my first screenplay rodeo, but its not my first attempt at submitting a piece of work to a decision maker. (stage play, book.) So I get that rejection is part of the gig. I expect it. I may not get another chance with that company, but I will get another chance. I'm also far from done. Just because one production company didn't like it doesn't mean they all won't like it. I will work one-on-one with someone again to work out any bugs and I will keep submitting. I'm pretty sure a large majority of feel "ready" when we choose to pitch. I certainly did. And I practiced that pitch until I was blue in the face. When the day came and I did my 8 minutes, the producer told me it was the best pitch all day. So of the hundreds and hundreds of facets that make up the selling of a good screenplay, I did something right. :) And for those of us that have pitched, it can be nerve racking! So I love that I did it and got my first time out of the way. (Phew!) This was an excellent learning curve. We all gotta fall to fly. I bruised my knee a little on this one...now I'm icing that knee and will be back at it. Frankly, to have come this far (writing it, working with a professional to help shape it, pitching it, having it requested) is exciting to me. I'm not oblivious to the fact that I have miles and miles more to go, but hey...I see this as a victory. A milestone, if you will. I'm proud of me. Thank you all, for your encouragement. Its truly appreciated.

Izzibella Beau

Joleene, YOU CAN DO IT!!!! But you don't need anyone to tell you that. You are driven, hard-working, and have a goal, isn't that what you need for success. Gosh, you handled it much better than I would've. I might have said I was okay, then secretly wept a few tears while eating my tub of Ben& Jerry's. Don't give up, EVER!

Joleene Moody

@Izzibella YAY!!!! I mean, don't think there wasn't a Charelston Chew (extra large) involved after I got the e-mail...but I let it go. I had to. I'm learning to "release the expectation" on some things. That doesn't mean I don't think about it or set goals or not care -- it just means I have to trust the path and the process. Funny thing, I've been working on a pilot for a series and as I was writing yesterday, I thought - "This is better than the screenplay." I can already see the characters developing in a different way. I know now I would like to take a course of some kind. So my sights are set on that. You know, in between life and work and family and more life and more work and more family..... :) Thanks for the kudos, Izzibella. We'll get there. xoxo

Jack Middleton

Joleen. You really have the right mindset. Disney didn't give up when he couldn't get a loan to start his dream. After more than a hundred declines, he finally made it - you will too. Phillip is right, be tenacious. I am still learning that.

Jack Middleton

Side note - - - If we learn by our mistakes why do we get so upset when we make them? Just keep trying.

Joleene Moody

@Jack, it took me years to find the patience not to quit. I think I was born late in life, because I'm here in my mid-40's (holy crap) and I finally get it now. I get that the goods in life require hard work and patience. We live in a culture that demands instant gratification. It just doesn't work that way. That's why I love that Ira Glass quote. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that I will reach my goal. Maybe not today or tomorrow or next Friday or next year. But I will reach it because I will not give up. I will continue to write and to slog and to be rejected. I will continue to brainstorm and dream and pitch and be rejected. I will continue to learn and to read and to take workshops and then ONE DAY....the levy will break. That's how I know I will be successful. Because I'll keep swinging until I knock it out of the park. And I LOVE that I feel that way. That feeling alone is the difference between success and merely existing. Cheers to you!

Izzibella Beau

I know the feeling of needing more time, but between life and more life, there isn't much give. Have you tried writing out the story without actually making it into a screenplay? Maybe get all the basics out first of who's who and who does what before trying to make it work in a 100 or so page script. I think it's easier to take the things I've already completed, cutting out what's not necessary and working from there. I'm sure on your written work you can get feedback from here or maybe getting a beta reader or two. We are all here to help and by working together, we can all help one another succeed.

Melissa Willis

Joleen, this is such an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing your story! It's so hard not to get discouraged sometimes because they ARE trying to help you, but that's a great bit of perspective.

David Levy

When I putched my first scripts, I had four requests out of seven pitches. Just keep your eyes on the prize as things can only go up from here. COngrats and keep moving forward! Some of the best notes and feedback come from those who pass on a script.

Joleene Moody

@Izzabella, did my own versions of all of these. Ready to cut out what's neccessary! @Melissa, thank you, lovely. I think we have to have that kind of perspective. I'm pretty sure the most successful writers out there do. xoxo

Joleene Moody

@David. I agree on the "best notes come from" piece. How would I know it was "over-written" if someone in the game didn't tell me? Now I know where to refocus and ask for help in that area. Good news is the story line is solid and the character arcs are, too. And I think I'd rather have too much than not enough. Easier to cut back than add. It's like over dressing on a potentially cold day. You can take layers off, but it's gonna be difficult to add them back on if you don't have them.

Oben Janet

I think its not time to get discouraged. It's probably not what they want but I'm sure a little more time will fetch the right buyers

David Levy

Some of the best notes I received were on a pitch I recived a PASS on. I pretty much rewrote my TV pilot based on her two sentences of notes. I was focusing on the wrong main story arc and she saw it. The script is more solid than ever now. Sometimes a PASS gives us more feedback than we expect.

Bill Costantini

Just for a bit of additional perspective (from my scripts)....when I was doing the FadeIn PitchFest....first time I did around 23 pitches and got four requests, and one option. I also found out exactly what type of script that a few of the attendees were looking for, wrote two of them, then got some re-write requests over and over....and ultimately two passes before I tapped out and became submerged in my regular job. My second PitchFest....I did around 20 pitches....six requests....no options....found out exactly what a few of the attendees were looking for, wrote one of them....and ultimately got a pass. But that pass led to me getting a contract to write another script for someone else. A couple commonalities in my experiences....regardless of genre.....people were looking for "unique...relevant...and edgy." Even in dramas....tragedy, action or comedy....dramas, regardless of sub-genre or scope, have to teeter on tragedy and bring characters on the verge of chaos, ruin, death, and insanity. Because that's what life is ultimately about, right? You're always on the verge or living through varying degrees of inner and outer chaos before you win - if you win. Always. If one doesn't realize that, then their scripts are as boring as they are. And even these modern-day retellings of old-day stories are as edgy as all get-out, you know? On Stage32 I'm 0-for-5, but have gotten some really important insights on where my scripts were lacking. I really appreciated that, because it made me look at my works and styles in a whole new light, and made me realize that my scripts can't just be good: the content and my style have to be frigging brilliant. They have to match the competencies of the brilliant people in the business with whom I am trying to join forces and make brilliant films. I'm working on those areas. Elsewhere, I've turned down a handful of options in the last couple years on a couple scripts because I didn't think those producers had the competencies or the abilities to raise the monies, and also felt they were trying to option as many scripts as they could with the goal of "brokering" the scripts and maybe getting an AP job in the process. Heck...that's what I'm doing....and I probably have better chances than they do....since they really didn't have successful track records to show, and didn't seem to grok and love the history of film and modern-day film, the business and marketing as much as I do. Good luck!

Mark Vincent Kelly

Also you have lots of specifics to drill down into - DIRECTION :-D

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Holy crap! If I folded up the tent every time I received a rejection or had somebody say they didn't like something I've written, I'd be tent-less or folding it in perpetuity. One of the most popular and advertised channels for "producers" has introduced me to several folks who've wanted me to take their shitty idea and write a script for them. And unless they have someone to bankroll the project, who's to say their idea is any better than mine? That's what smart people call a rhetorical question. The answer is nobody. I'm quite convinced there are many industry souls out there at the receiving end of materials, who wouldn't know a great script or idea for that matter, if it jumped up and bit them on the proboscis. Keep writing, keep writing and keep writing until you get it right. But don't spend two years rewriting the same damn script when nobody's interested in reading it. There's no such thing as a producible script until somebody wants to give you money to produce it. I have a meeting later today regarding a rewrite gig for a producer with solid credentials. However, my first question to them is going to be what's your plan for raising money for your project?

Regina Lee

Hi Joleene, quoting your response: "@David. I agree on the "best notes come from" piece. How would I know it was "over-written" if someone in the game didn't tell me? Now I know where to refocus and ask for help in that area." That is exactly Danny Manus's point which he wrote above. He's saying that ideally (ideally!), you would have had a script consultant/coverage service/trusted reader/other resource give you some feedback first and help you get the script in better shape BEFORE you pitched to producers. He's saying you tested the waters with the producer, or that the producer was your "test case" or "guinea pig." Whereas, ideally (if you have the resources), you would have FIRST tested the waters with someone else. Therefore, ideally, you would gotten some good notes, further developed the script, and then by the time you pitched the rewritten script, you could have made an even better first impression with the producer.

Steven Michael

You go Joleene. Fantastic attitude and post.

Regina Lee

That said, we don't live in an ideal world, and there are lots of variables. But I think the point Danny was making is exactly the point that you made. "How would I know it was 'over-written' if someone in the game didn't tell me?" Ideally you would have consulted with someone else, done that rewrite work, and THEN pitched to producers afterward. In an effort to make the best possible first impression.

Joleene Moody

Okay, people. I just posted my screenplay on my home page. If you feel so compelled, have at it. I had the privilege of working with Dorian Connelley of Apex Entertainment a few times. She helped me shape it and all that jazz. I would love your feedback, good and not so good. Include both. :) It helps.

Erik Grossman

That's an amazing outlook to have Joleene! You are an example to writers everywhere!

Joleene Moody

@Erik Thank you, kind sir. :)

Blake Henry

Thanks for inspiring me Joleen!

Mark Vincent Kelly

I'm going to respectfully disagree with Simon. I think ask feedback has some value, for example if a person feels suddenly disconnected from a character because of an action that may actual indicate an early problem in seeding the action in the character successfully earlier by the writer to prepare the reader subconsciously for the planned change.

Mark Vincent Kelly

Apologies, I meant Peter. (Who is Simon?

Joleene Moody

@Danny. I misunderstood your post. Sorry. blush @Blake. We're all in this together. This is my first screenplay, but it's not my first gig. I am a produced playwright and published author. So I get rejected regularly. :) But a screenplay is a completely different animal. I think some of us expect our first pieces to be gold. And while I think mine is (grin) there is some polishing that needs to be done. I have so much more to learn. We all do, right? That's why we need a community like this -- to help us lick our wounds, be realistic, and pull us up off the ground when we're highly frustrated. @Peter I won't lie, I agree with you to a degree. That production company may have been my first pitch, but it's not the only hands it's in. There are others that have read it and see it's potential. So there is clearly a difference in opinion. In the end, I think we have to take the feedback, look into it, and decide what we're going to do with it. I also agree the slog part could be because it wasn't his cup of tea. I am part of a playwriting group, and we are tasked with reading new plays from writers that want to be members. The last one we got, I just couldn't get in to. So I have to think there will always be that degree of difficulty for any producer/agent/slog sorter as they mush through the pages. Maybe they hate it. maybe they're tired. Maybe they had a bad day and hate everyone. We have to just keep writing. @Mark At the same time, I agree with you, too. That feedback has value. I'm an entrepreneur, and if there is one thing I've learned in my journey of working for myself, it's that not everyone will love us. Not everyone will agree with our work. I've applied (for the second year) to be part of a writers lab for women over 40. I know that experience would be invaluable. And if I don't get it, I'll find other options. If any of you screenwriters feel compelled, I've posted my screenplay on my page. I would appreciate feedback. Good and not so good. I think both are necessary. :) Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate this community.

Jack Middleton

Joleene You are correct. We should be here to help each other get through those times of self doubt. I am glad to hear that you posted your screenplay.... I look forward to reading it. :-) Keep writing.

Patrick M McCormick

Jolene... now you know what to correct. Go over the work a few more times. Make the scenes descriptive and easy to understand; make sure they generate clear visuals for the reader. Reduce the dialog to the absolute minimum that you need to get the point across. Focus on transitions between scenes and add as much color to your characters as you can. Squeeze out all excess... if your story can do without something, take it out.

Joleene Moody

@peter. I dig you. :)

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

@Peter: Great post using the Amadeus example. And I couldn't agree with you more. I posted a question to people in the forum asking them about their rewriting process and have been fascinated by the answers. Beyond formatting, spelling, omitted words and grammatical errors, the process of evaluating screenplays is what you said, a highly subjective one. I know, because I've reviewed a lot of them lately. This week, I had a producer contact me about doing a rewrite on a nearly twenty year-old script. I spent the day reading it and then wrote two pages of notes and an evaluation sheet. I did this to clearly outline and provide logical reasons for why I thought the script was worth revising; and I made a case for scrapping the original screenplay. I believe it boils down to a couple of things. First, how much up front work you do in planning and outlining your screenplay. Second, how much confidence you have in your ability and your work. I'm intrigued by writers who numerically quantify the number of rewrites necessary to make their work presentable to producers. I'm also intrigued by how many times they'll pay for script coverage for the same script. The prevailing wisdom in writing screenplays is that the more rewrites, the better. I say better to think creatively, trust your instincts more and not suck the soul out of what you're doing. And unless you have a party interested in developing your screenplay into a film, how can you know what they’re going to want to change; or how they wish to put their stamp on the work?

Izzibella Beau

I always love Phillip's answers. Thank you for always be so descriptive in responding to everyone's questions and concerns. It is so much appreciated.

Joleene Moody

@Izzibella. Agreed. ;)

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

@Izzibella and Joleene! Thanks and don't forget "To Serve Man is a cookbook!"

Bill Costantini

Joleene, at this point, how do you feel about the script with regards to the specific opinions from the reader? Do you agree with the statements "over-written" and "sloggy?" You're kinda at that point where either you agree with that ONE person's opinion, or you don't....or you agree with some parts, and maybe not other parts, and maybe to some degrees. Your position is somewhat similiar to getting a doctor's second opinion on somethiing. Even doctors - who have the same trainings - can have different opinions on something. Imagine how producers, or their readers, or script consultants - who have no standard trainings or certifications - can have different opinions on a script. Like your producer friend who helped you craft your script, and the producer (or producer's reader) who gave your script low marks and differing opinions (I assume) from your producer friend who helped you craft it. And remember....David took away some very valid critiques from his reader's comments (at least in David's eyes).....and I took away some very valid critiques from my reader's opinions (at least in my eyes).....and Orwell's Animal Farm was rejected by dozens of publishers...as was Harry Potter.....etc...etc... Sometimes when I'm not sure about the validity of a specific critique about something I write, I take my hard-copy script and bring it to a different place than my usual writing place (my desk in my office.) My office is like my "home field", and home-field has a built-in...for lack of a better term...."bias" for me at times. Bringing my script somewhere else kinda helps me re-gain a different perspective - or at least the proper perspective - to deal head-on with someone's viewpoint on what I wrote. I''m not sayiing that is what you should do, but it helps me.

Joleene Moody

@Bill You pose some great questions. No, I don't think it's a slog to get through. If it is, I would be interested in knowing where this producer found that to be true. I posted the screenpaly yesterday on my home page to get feedback. What the hell, right? I want this, so I can handle the bullshit and I can handle the kudos. It's all part of the gig. As far as over-written, I'm not sure what that means. Do I feel that way? Not really, no. The producer that worked with me was someone I didn't know. (I paid for time with her.) I feel like she guided me very well. If anything, I may have some spots that "tell" instead of "show." If that means over-writing, well alrighty then, I can work with that. But the story flows well. It's so interesting to have the two perspectives, too. The time with the producer that helped me shape it was AMAZING. She was straight with me. I don't think she really liked it the first time around. But I took everything into consideration that she offered on her mark-up of my script. When she read that version (current version), she really, really enjoyed it. Enough to offer to pass it along to someone else to look at. (For the record, that gesture was confirmation that I must have done something right with my story.) As for my office, I don't spend all my days in here writing. I love that you asked me that. When I wake up, the first thing I think about other than a cup of coffee is, "Where am I feeling it today?" I've written in my bed, kitchen, dining room living room, spare bedroom, and the couch in my office. I sometimes stand in my office and think, "I don't feel it here today. Where do I feel it?" And of course, there's the occasional trip to B&N or some other cozy nook. I am most productive from 5am - 11am sitting up in my bed, writing. I don't waste time, either. It really is the shiniest moment for me. So there it is. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Joleene: If you get the same feedback from two different people, go ahead and make the changes, if not, I would reevaluate the screenplay after putting it away for some time. Follow your instincts and let it be, move on to your next project. The more you write and read screenplays the better you will get and eventuall...zyou will be able to look at your work and find the kind of writer you are. Last, don't be afraid to push the envelope with your story, characters, subject matter. You as I come from Theater, which is a bit more open as far as dialogue, so the adjustment in film is, less or shorter dialogue and scenes, to keep it moving, remember, " motion picture". You got this, girl.

Joleene Moody

@Jorge Thank you! I agree with you. I have tucked the screenplay neatly away and am working on a pilot. I needed to hear you say that because I wasn't sure if setting it aside for a spell was a good thing or a bad thing. Thank you for validating that for me. I appreciate your comment. :)

Bill Costantini

Tucking something away worked for me when I was lacking in the understanding of my weaknesses as a writer, and didn't have the ability and knowledge to recognize them and fix them. When I better learned those areas that I was lacking (how to write more meaningful dialogue; how to create deeper conflicts in every scene; how to better pace a story; how to create deeper subtext; how to string scenes together that consistently movied my story forward; how to create a consistent tone), I was able to recognize where my flaws were, and stopped tucking away my story. I'm not saying "tucking away" a story is in itself a bad thing - I'm only saying what works for me at this stage of my writing journey. And I was a successful professional writer for many years before I started writing screenplays. Creating a commercially viable brilliant long story like a novel or a screenplay that someone wants to make into a film is without a doubt the most difficult art form to accomplish, in my opinion.

Jorge J Prieto

Bill, I think it comes a point, where is pointless to keep rewriting the same script again seven times seven. It's insane, I know this by experience. It paralyzes you from moving on. It makes doubt yourself. I refuse to revisit a 6 -8 year old screenplay, unless, someone says: " I like that story. I want to option it, but can you change the ending? Or can you cut to 90 pages? " Other than that, it is time to let that baby take a well deserved nap. Next!!" Time is short, got to grab that next story idea before it escapes me. It happens. Love you guys, ALL of you, well you more, PHILIP E. You mentioned INSTINCTS, I have said this many times as you did. " Trust your instincts." Thank you, brother.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Jorge: Por nada amigo!

Dawn Murrell

I pitched my screenplay called Believe to Disney. Its about a princess with a disability and Disney was the company that inspired me to write. They didn't request it, they passed but I didn't care! They gave me 4's and told me they loved the main character, but they told me I needed to fix the ending because it was a deus ex machina! I was so happy, I wrote Happy Writers and told them thank you!!

Mark Vincent Kelly

Just a final thought: When I get feedback that something is overwritten I often find they mean I have answered a question posed in the script in both subtext AND text so the reader felt robbed of the feeling of having "worked it out themselves." Hope that helps, it certainly helped me! :-)

Joleene Moody

@Mark. It totally does! I love the way you put it. ("worked it out for themselves") And I'm certain that's what producers meant when they said I had overwritten. I went to see 10 Cloverfield Lane last night and paid very close attention to the writing. 75% action, 25% dialogue. And while I KNOW this is how a screenplay needs to be written, the playwright in me keeps creeping out. Thanks so much for your feedback. :)

Bill Costantini

Jorge - we all have our opinions. I re-wrote a script in 2016 that I had originally written in 2004. It's getting good play right now, and I'll accept the option offer on it that satisfies me the most. The original story was lacking in some of the areas that I had mentioned in my previous post, and that I've improved upon as a writer. It's a great concept; has a strong theme; and is very relevant. But it was fundamentally flawed in several ways that all of my first six or seven scripts were. Nobody was asking about it or requesting me to re-write it. I did it myself because I believed the story - fully-realized and better-written - could be commercially viable in today's marketplace . One man's insanity is another man's rationality, I guess. Me personally - if I believe my older stories that didn't quite meet the many levels of professionalism but had good stories and characters obscured in the fog and clouds of a novice/intermediate writer, then I'm going to try to bring them to the levels of professionalism that I now have, and that I didn't have years ago. Redemption is a great thing, and even if it ends up being just for myself.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Just a side note... "Overwritten" can simply mean the economy, or rather the lack of economy in your writing -- you perhaps used too many words. Lol! It may indicate a need to be more terse or pithy, to better paint an image in the mind of your reader in fewer lines/words. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Bill: Thanks. You are right.

Dawn Murrell

Joleene, I was so busy talking about my experience that I didn't tell you how inspiring your post and attitude was. Your wisdom and positive vision is going to pay off for you in a big way. Probably sooner than you think!! :). Cheers to you!

Jorge J Prieto

Joleene: I second what Dawn said, girlfriend. I know that you know this already from me.

Joleene Moody

@Dawn, what was your experience??? Share, share! (and thank ou for the love. :)

Dan Guardino

I agree with Beth. Unlike most forms of writing screenwriting has a certain cadence which comes from writing economically. Since it is usually the one thing that gives newer screenwriters the most trouble and takes a lot of practice to get over people will assume the writer is inexperienced if their script is overwritten. Also the script is going to make the reader work twice as hard and if the reader has a pile of scripts to read through the trash can is going to look awfully appealing to them. Here are some tips for write more economically: Avoid large blocks of dialogue. Keep action lines to three lines of under and four at the very most. Write only what we can see and avoid character’s thoughts. Don’t describe every detail in the scene. Avoid describing character’s every movement. In other words paint your scenes with broad strokes and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest. Avoid words that can usually be eliminated such as “are”, “and”, “there”, “it is”, “it's”, “to go”, “to say”, “is”, “to be” and words ending in “ly” and “ing.” You can usually eliminate first words of dialogue such as "Well", "No", "Yes", "Of course", "I mean", etc. Eliminate words like "hello", "goodbye", "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome" unless used for irony or emphasis. Avoid having your character ask questions but when they do don’t have the other character answer if the audience will assume what the answer would be. Replace the "to be" verbs with an active verb or eliminate them entirely. For example "She is in uniform" becomes "In uniform.” "It is dark outside" becomes “Dark, " etc. Make all your action immediate. Eliminate words like "suddenly", "then", "begins to", "starts to" and just make the action happen without any sort of temporal qualifier. For example: "Suddenly, he runs off." becomes "He runs off." "She starts to climb" becomes "She climbs." Hope this helps.

Linda Perkins

Atta girl, Joleene! You've succeed at point I've yet to achieve. Your success is for us all to strive for...thanks for sharing.

Dan Guardino

Joleene. It took me longer than you to figure it out. I was never a good writer but I had a story to tell and I wanted to tell it. I tried writing a novel and I quit before I reached page fifty because I realized I had no talent for writing novels. Then a few months later I accidentally came across a “how to write a screenplay book” at the bookstore and decided I would give that a try. My first script was crap on a stick. I got my share of bad feedback on it as was told there were a lot of formatting issues and it was overwritten. In fact several people told me it read more like a bad novel than a screenplay which is ironic because I couldn't write a novel to save my life. Unfortunately I refused to listen to those people because when I tried to write economically it felt awkward and I didn't like the way they read. Because I refused to listen to their advise I spent several years writing spec screenplays that had about a zero chance of selling. When I finally gave in I started writing economically as I could and one of my main goals was to make them read fast as I could. I still didn't like how they read but I did manage to land an agent, option a few screenplays was hired to write a few. I think the key really is listen to those people that have already traveled down this road before you and never quit writing because you never know when something good might happen. I had surgery this week and I'm on some pain medication so I hope this makes some sense. Good luck Joleene and keep up the good work!!!

Joleene Moody

@Dan Thank you. It makes perfect sense. Very helpful. I appreicate your story, too. I'm wide open to tips, so I appeciate the ones you gave us here. :)

Joleene Moody

@Kathleen I really don't know what he meant by 'slog.' Someone above suggested that just meant he didn't like the content and therefore, it was a pain to read. (I don't like superhero movies, so I might have the same experience if I had to read through a script like that.) As far as overwritten, it's the page length it should be for a comedy. After extensive discussion in this thread (which has been invaluable to me), overwritten could mean I "told" more than I "showed." And believe this to be the case. Actually, I know it. I know the first 10 pages need to be compelling, too. So it's not a question of me writing a screenplay blind (without any knowledge of structure, etc.) I've read, worked with, and watched enough to one that is formatted based on what you talk about. It's a question of content that hooks. I have miles to go when it comes to telling the story wth more action that dialogue. I'm a playwright...so I'm conditioned to that. Interestingly, I'm a former television reporter, which requires quick, to the point writing), so I need to put that to work for me. (We are both journalists!) Thanks for weighing in. This entire friend has been SOOOOOO helpful. xoxo

Beth Fox Heisinger

The key is to not write too elaborately or ornately in a screenplay. Don’t use 14 words to explain your scene when 4 would better serve the same purpose—and if it's obvious, you lost your reader. You have precious real estate on those pages so treat it as such and only write what is completely necessary. This is very difficult and challenging! You have to strike that balance between being creative/unique/engaging and crafting it on the page as tersely and meaningfully as possible. Think of it more in terms of learning how to choose the right words. The note "slog" tells me that you pushed the reader's patience. There perhaps was too much bogging down your story. An unfortunate "judgement," or rather "misjudgement," placed upon perceived overwriting is that the writer is being self-indulgent and pretentious, and is not considering the script from the reader's experience, only their own. Anyway, it's very challenging to learn how to better view your own work objectively. Nonetheless, just keep going! You have a great attitude and are well on your way! I wish you the best, Joleene! :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan, I hope you are doing well! :)

Joleene Moody

@Beth Thank you, Beth. I will certainly keep going. All of this has actually inspired me to go back in and work it. I want to work with an experienced screenwriter, too. One-on-one, or a workshop. I did work one-on-one (paid) with someone experienced a bit for my script before I pitched. But I can see now that I certainly did overwrite. Thank you for weighing in. :)

Dan Guardino

A few more tips on writing economically. As a general rule, keep your descriptions under 3 lines. Describe only the relevant information. It is not necessary to describe every single detail of the scene. Paint the scene in broad strokes and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest. Large amounts of detail burden the script. Avoid describing a character’s every single movement. Example: It’s okay to say, “Bob crouches behind the chair… dashes for the door. as opposed to “Bob moves to the chair and crouches behind it. He looks left and right then turns to the left and races out the open door. Try to keep a single event, shot or sequence within one description. Have the sentences that compose your description all related to one another. If the action changes suddenly then start a new paragraph. And write only what you can see on screen. That means do not write thoughts or anything intangible. Hope this helps someone out there. @ Beth. I had two large kidney stones removed so I am going to be okay and the pain pills they gave me help. Thanks for your concern.

Richard "RB" Botto

Some terrific feedback throughout this thread, but it has to be said, Joleene, your initial post is just phenomenal. Having thick skin, a willingness to accept and parse feedback and a positive attitude is more than half the battle in this biz. Also gives you, in many ways, a competitive advantage.

Dan Guardino

@ Jolene. I can tell from your post that you are open to tips which is fantastic and you have a much better attitude than I had when I first started out. So, I know you'll get where you want to be a lot quicker than it took me to get where I wanted to be. I only told my story because I hoped it might prevent someone out there from making the same big mistakes I made. I currently have 4 feature film projects in various stages of production and two more being considered for production so I am not complaining. However I do think there is a good chance I would have accomplished more by now if I wasn't so hard headed and listen to people that had more experience than I had. As long as people do the opposite of what I do they will be fine. LOL!

Richard "RB" Botto

Great post, Dan. Tough lesson to learn.

Jorge J Prieto

I second, RB's comment, DAN. Get well soon, brother. Joleene: We are all for one another. I will get back to you soon on PM.

Jorge J Prieto

Just came across this article on PITCHING, and think it might help a bit. Hey, it can't hurt, my fellow happy writers. Link below. https://screencraft.org/2016/03/25/7-tips-networking-pitching-industry-e...

Izzibella Beau

Thanks, Jorge for the information

Joleene Moody

@Dan Thanks for all your feedback and kudos. I think my gumption comes partially from my age. I'm a week away from 44. Ten years ago, I probably would have thrown a temper tantrum and gave up writing altogether! AND...I am also a kindey stone recipient. Had major surgery in 2011. I send MANY x's and o's your way. @Richard Thank you. I try to be realistic about these things. Sure, it would have been great to be a prodigy selling my very first screenplay with my very first pitch. (Can you imagine????) I am so damn grateful for this community. I mean, there are some writers and producers here that have done the deed and are knee deep in this. They've sold scripts and are immersed. They've been where so many of us are and are willing to show up here and offer all these goodies to those of us that are still birthing our first babies.

Steve Cleary

If it was a slog to get through, see if you can tighten up your action descriptions -- no more than 4 lines per passage -- and try to use the 10/3 rule on the dialogue. That's what they want to see in a spec. Until then, when you're writing the films you're directing, you can get away with anything :^} Good Luck!

Steven Michael

Joleene & anyone else: Here's a good site that explains 13 rules of creating great dialogue. It's just one part of the movie, but maybe it will help. I found it to be both entertaining and informative. http://www.whatascript.com/movie-dialogue.html

Jack Middleton

@ Steven & all others. I have a very good screenwriting blue book called 'Dialogue Secrets' by William Martell that really helps with dialogue. I recommend it if you haven't got it.

Mark Vincent Kelly

The 10 3 rule mentioned by Steven above (i'd to look it up so thought I'd save someone else the bother!) http://www.whatascript.com/movie-dialogue-03.html#rule3

Mark Vincent Kelly

Well it took 6 day but we got there, someone posting a completely useless comment that only criticises someone else's contribution. (Oh internet, your trolls will always find a way) If anyone needs me I'm off turning the racist Twitter AI bot back on...

Jeanette Greenwood- Ceo

Good for you to take the feedback and not allow it to damper your spirits. Keep writing! I am afraid to submit mine! LOL! I know I over wrote! LOL.. I am learning the difference from Theater and Film. huge difference.. I never would have thought.

Rayna W.

Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Anne-Marie Caluwaert

and you can Always write a better draft keep going!!!!

Bill Costantini

In his defense, the guy who wrote the "10-3 rule" does preface it by saying "a general rule of thumb," and everything he says about writing dialogues and the purposes of dialogues are pretty consistent with what everyone else has said about writing dialogues and the purposes of dialogues. Here are a few rules that should ALWAYS be followed. 1. Hero Rule - NEVER name your hero Atherosclerosis Esophagitis. 2. Villian Rule - NEVER kill your villain with the ghost of Lassie. 3. Rising Action Rule - NEVER use yeast to make your action rise. 4. Plot Construction Rule - NEVER construct your plot with airplane glue and chocolate milk. 5. Final Conflict Rule - NEVER put your final conflict on page 14.

GiVan Johnson

People can learn from your attitude.

Joleene Moody

SHE STANDS UP QUICKLY. JOLEENE: I just want to say that I think I should win a prize for starting one of the world's longest threads on Stage32.

Patrick M McCormick

You done good!

Jack Middleton

I think you should too.

Joleene Moody

@Peter - You SLAY me! I love it. Laughing my ass off over here all by myself. Just...awesome.

Beth Fox Heisinger

...Well, there's been much much longer threads. We are quite the talkative bunch! So, kudos all around! Thanks, Joleene! Great discussion! :)

Jorge J Prieto

Peter: It's a riot! Laughter, the best medicine. Thanks, buddy.

Bill Costantini

Peter - maybe a version of Joleene descending down a staircase would be a nice award?

Joleene Moody

@Bill. With one of those shiny award thigees, too. That would be NICE. :) @Beth. Grateful for this community, that's for sure. xoxo @Peter. Did I tell you yet how much you slay me??? Thanks for the laughs. This entire thread has been therapeutic in a million ways.

Jack Middleton

And it keeps going.... going.... going..... and then, a plot twist! Holy crap!

Bill Costantini

Peter - great job!

Joleene Moody

Wow. She looks JUST like me! Well, her hair is darker and she's chunkier and shorter and her skin is as white as all get-up, but what the hell, right? I'M FAMOUS NOW!!! @Peter. Lovely. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Joleene: You see girlfriend? You got this! And I got you. Sony and Cher. Lol.

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