Saturday, August 2, 2008

Figuring out what you're terrible at

As optimistic post.

Writing and working in this industry is as much about finding your weaknesses as it is accenting your strengths.

For instance, I am great with dialog, decent on structure, and terrible at proofreading.

So, how do I account for that? I send my scripts to tons of people, have begun outlining more strictly, writing more extensive character developments, and trying to read scripts backwards. (yes, it's a little trick I learned recently. Try it)

The problem, not to sound boastful, is that in my opinion great dialog can make up for piss-poor structure. I look at the most recent re-write I did for a tv pilot I'm working on, and while I know the structure needs work, it sounds good, and flows because of the dialog, so it becomes difficult for me to see how to correct it. I know, I know, I know, it sounds terrible, and I know it does. On the other hand, great structure rarely makes up for piss poor dialog. But, I'm learning how to get the structure right.

But, that's why it's so important to see your biggest faults and PLAY TO THEM. Two of the most popular ways:

-Writing Groups--i have some excellent ones.
-Writing Partners--i am looking for one.

Either way, the easiest way to find your faults is to get other people's eyes on your script.

A professional will not only know where they are strong, they will be even more aware of where they are weak.

1 comment:

Raving Dave Herman said...

Hi Russell,

Yes, it’s so important to acknowledge where you still have a lot to learn as well as to know what to show off about. The more realistic and objective you can be about these things, the better prepared you are for meetings. It also means you can use your writing time more efficiently.

I definitely agree that bad dialogue is an instant turn-off when reading a script. However, most producers will only even start reading the script if they’ve first been triggered by an intriguing premise. So when they start reading they’re looking to see if this is a movie, not whether the writer is the new Harold Pinter!

In my experience (but this may have to do with my penchant for structure), producers are reassured when the structure is clear and firm. All the details can be perfected during development, as long as the basic framework feels solid.

Having said that, great structure, great dialogue, great locations ... none of this can make up for a lousy, uninteresting premise.