How close am I? How many more drafts? Am I there yet?
These are the burning questions I’m asked all the time. And I get it. Most writers are anxious to be finished. They want to get their material out there so they can line up an agent and land that seven figure spec sale. But the truth is most writers take their work out too soon – before it’s ready. Unfortunately jumping the gun can significantly undermine your chance at success. Competition in the real world is fierce. Especially for a new writer where the bar is even higher than for an established writer. Sending your script out to executives before it’s truly finished is a recipe for disaster. Don’t do it!
So how do you know when your script is ready – when you’ve found the Sweet Spot?
The answer to this is a judgment call. In order to honestly assess your script’s readiness you need to be able to dig deep and make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your script the best it can be. This starts with knowing what story you want to tell. Many writers, even after multiple drafts, still don’t have a good handle on what their story is about. If you don’t know the answer to this question you won’t know when you’ve achieved it. You also need to be able to be brutally honest with yourself to make sure you’re not avoiding the hard work of rewriting. It’s oft said that rewriting is harder than writing and in many ways this is true partly because it involves a different set of skills than outlining or writing. In making this judgment call you also need to know what your plan is for taking your script out. You need to have a handle on your expectations and be ready for the inevitable roller coaster ride ahead. Many writers don’t have a good sense of what they need to do once they’ve finished their piece and aren’t prepared for what’s involved in taking their script out to the marketplace. Knowing what’s ahead can help you determine whether your script is ready.
Knowing what story you want to tell, making sure you’re not avoiding the hard work of rewriting and having a plan are just three important aspects involved in deciding if your script is truly finished. Learning how to honestly assess your material’s readiness is vital to your success as a screenwriter. Join me on September 5th for The Writers Store webinar Finding the Sweet Spot: When Is My Script Ready? as I share valuable tools you can use to make this judgment call. You’ll learn how to know when you’ve found the Sweet Spot and will be able to answer every writer’s burning question… am I there yet?
Note: If you can’t make the live event, as long as you sign up in advance of the event, this live webinar is available as a recording and will be emailed to you.
Ruth Atkinson is a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in all aspects of the film and television business. Films Ruth has consulted on have won awards and been distributed around the world including ‘The Perfect Family’ starring Kathleen Turner theatrically released May 2012 and the Gala Closing Film at Outfest 2011, celebrated indie ‘The People I’ve Slept With, Genie’ nominated ‘Who Loves the Sun’ starring Molly Parker and Adam Scott, and the New Zealand hit Predicament. Ruth also reviews submissions to the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Screenwriting Lab and was this year’s screenwriting instructor for Project Involve, Film Independent’s (FIND) flagship diversity program which produced six short films that screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival this June. Ruth is available for script consulting and story editing and can be reached at www.ruthatkinson.com.