Thoughts while reading a digital pile of screenplays.

Laughing at a Screenplay 480w

 

One of the delights of running this business is the opportunity to read the work of those who want to join up with me and the writers already on staff.

Well, it’s often delightful.

At the moment, I’m looking to add three more screenwriters. I have been deluged with scripts, and so I’ve been doing a lot of reading. And sorting.

I’ve deleted many emails. I tell these people what to send. I warn them about typos. If the writer does not cooperate, deletion happens. They need to what I tell them to do. I don’t engage with those I delete. If they can’t follow simple instructions, I expect things would get worse if I put them on staff.

On the other hand, there are a lot of seriously-talented writers out there and it’s just huge fun reading their work. If you’ve read other stuff on this site, you know I’m all about the story. Give me something brilliantly written and competently structured (I can spot a typo or use of the wrong word at 500 yards, and those things interrupt the flow), and I’m all in.

So I’m sitting at my desk, face aimed at the monitor, reading, reading, then I burst into laughter and then applaud. Or maybe I wince. Or roll my eyes, and then close the screenplay. If it grabs me by page 5, great. I’ll continue reading. If it sucks up to page 5, I move on to the next one. Because it’ll keep on sucking.

What genre scripts do I consider? Generally, I avoid fantasy. When you’re making up your own world, you aren’t showing me what you can do with gritty drama in this world. My preference is drama, or comedy, or a combination thereof. Sci-fi is a possibility but it needs to be grounded. Show me a story about people, and it’s OK if it’s set on the moon or a spacecraft. If it’s science related, get the science right (Star Wars: In space, fighters don’t need wings and they don’t maneuver like jets. And there is no sound outside of a spacecraft. Because sound needs to propagate through material of some kind. And a vacuum ain’t it.)

And yes, I know, the Star Wars saga made about $6 zillion. It’s not sci-fi. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Avatar (2009) are sci-fi. Star Wars is space fantasy-adventure.

I send contracts to brilliant writers. Not only are they enormous fun to work with, they can give clients amazing work. Clients often come to us because they need a brilliant writer to make their project shine. Not all writers I send contracts to sign up, after all, there are terms and conditions, and sometimes they have issues with those terms. That’s life.

Of the several dozen applicants I’m sorting through, I’ve made notes about some who are really good, and I plan to send a contract to one guy who just nailed it perfectly. And I have about three dozen more emails (and associated screenplays) to go through.

This process is what sets this business apart from individual writer websites. I make the judgments about who is outstanding, good, average or insufficient. When you have your own website, you can list your accomplishments (and with any luck, truthfully) and promote your writing skill and customer service attitude. But if you want assignments from me, you’d better prove it.

On freelancer websites, it’s largely the same thing. You sign up, promote yourself, and get clients. But who’s screening them to assure they know what they’re doing? Nobody.

You’ll soon see new pictures and bio sketches on the writing staff page at Ghostwriters Central. Stay tuned.

 

About Michael McKown

Journalist, specialty magazine editor/publisher for 22 years, entrepreneur, co-founder of America's largest working dog organization, producer/director, and co-founder of Ghostwriters Central in 2002.