So there’s this guy on the SP list this morning who reckons writers should believe in their own talent and forget about using script readers. He also says that script reading doesn’t lead on to anything – his mates who were script reading ten years ago are still script reading today.
As we all know, I’m a script reader, so I’m clearly going to think script reading is a good thing. So let me address his first point as a writer.
I believe in my own talent: if I didn’t, I wouldn’t send my stuff out. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even write if I didn’t. And like all of us, I think I rock more than my competition – because if I didn’t, again I wouldn’t send my stuff out. You have to have a certain amount of ego to write: forget about the scripts, you’re essentially sending out a notice that says, OI. THIS IS BRILLIANT. EFFING READ IT (or words to that effect, at least).
But the thing is, no one can write the perfect script without some outside input. Why? Because if you want your script to be sent out, your script is not destined just for YOU, it’s destined for the OUTSIDE WORLD. You will be asking people other than yourself to understand it – and because of this, you need to know what other people think of your ideas, way of writing it. There will have been opportunities missed in that first draft; there will be ambiguous turns of the narrative that are clear in YOUR head but not to a person who hasn’t written it. This is why even commissioned and produced writers get assigned script editors. They don’t just get given a storyline or a deal and go away and write: they EXPLORE alternative ways to tell the same story. It’s a necessary part of the whole thing.
What’s more, script reading DOES lead on to something – better writing. I’ve done A LOT of courses in scriptwriting, but I’ve learnt more script reading than anywhere. Script reading has been my training in what NOT to do three quarters of the time and what to aspire to a quarter of the time.
Of course you have to stick to your guns every now and again: just this weekend I wrote a pitch where a reader insisted I should try another angle, when in my heart I wanted to do the one I came up with. His angle was actually an interesting one, even a good one, but I just didn’t want to do it that way, it *felt* wrong for the story I had conceived. And it’s my story, not his. But he also came up with a truck load of other suggestions that IMPROVED my pitch. I’ll send it off later today knowing that it’s the best it can possibly be at this time thanks to him.
And that’s the thing: you can tweak and polish all you want, but if you don’t show it to anyone before you send it off, how can you possibly guess at how it might be received? You can’t. This biz is difficult as it is, don’t handicap yourself and prevent yourself from growing as a writer by denying yourself feedback – no matter who it comes from, I’d wager 9/10 your work will be improved.
But then you know that, right?