Whenever anyone asks what I do and I reply, “I’m a writer” and/or “I’m a script editor“, they’ll reply, “Wow! How interesting.”
My reaction to this is always an indulgent, “Awwwwwwwww …” because as anyone knows, there’s a STACK of misconceptions laypeople (and indeed other writers!) have about writing in general. Here’s just ten of them … Enjoy!
1) Writers love writing
Hahahaha. No. And Yes. And NO NO NO NO … just no. I hate writing SO MUCH. Except when I don’t and it’s awesome. MORE: 7 Writing Reminders
2) Writing is all about talent
Some of us are uber-talented. Some of us are not. Most of us are somewhere in-between. But get this: EVERYONE can get better. MORE: Talent is great BUT relationships get you hired
3) Originality is everything
Originality is overrated. Not because audiences are thick or because producers and agents are cynical gits, but because PRE-sold and GENRE-busting is where it’s at. Don’t know what these things are? Find out. MORE: 6 Different Movies With 3 Samey Premises
4) It’s the execution that counts
BUT WAIT! Originality might be overrated, but it’s NOT the execution that counts either. WTF? Well, if you’ve read my book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, you’ll know what I think of this phrase. Fact is, you have to stand out, especially at pitch level. You can’t do that with the SAME concept as everyone else. It’s just common sense. MORE: 4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else
5) Grammar and punctuation is not a big deal
Unfortunately, it IS a big deal. Look, no one cares about the odd typo or mistake. Everybody’s human. But you’re a WRITER. You need to know what goes into actual writing. You also need to appreciate that grammar and punctuation (or lack of it!) will probably form part of the submissions sifting process. of which a large part is grammar and punctuation. If you’re not great at grammar and punctuation, that’s obviously fine, but it’s your responsibility to know where your weaknesses are … then you can plan around this. MORE: 10 Common Errors You Need To Fix In Your Writing Right Now
6) Easy reading is easy writing
Nope. It’s the exact opposite. The easier something is to read (or indeed, watch if it’s screenwriting), the harder it is to write. Similarly, the shorter something is, the longer it took to write as well. Saying something succinctly is always more difficult than waffling on. MORE: The “Great Writing” Myth
7) Writing is easy
Writing is not easy. Good writers make it LOOK easy. There’s the difference. MORE: The Secret of Writing Great Conflict In Scenes: 3 Examples
8) Start at the beginning
Most unpublished novels and spec screenplays begin FAR TOO EARLY in the story: they don’t “hit the ground running” enough. This means I end up feeling like I’m watching an extended introduction to the characters BEFORE the story even begins. And guess what: by the time we finally get to the good stuff, I’m BORED. Doh! MORE: What does “hit the ground running” mean?
9) My work is in danger every time I send it out
New writers often worry a lot about copyright. But if you have something worth selling, people will BUY IT – it’s a lot less hassle! And no one produces things “as it is” anyway. MORE: Won’t someone nick my script or idea?
10) Writers make a lot of money
Yes, yes we all know the JK Rowlings and Stephen Kings of this world make millions. But fact is, most writers do NOT make a lot of money. They’re doing this shit simply because they love it and want to share their vision with the world. They want to do good work. They want to connect with their target audience. And yeah, they DO research and they DO want you to enjoy their stuff! So why not remember that, before assuming they have some kind of bad agenda and attacking them on social media? MORE: 6 Ways To Avoid Being A Keyboard Warrior
Get writing …
… Your story not being told?? Then it’s up to YOU to tell it!!
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Love this post! Sometimes I even find myself getting lulled by good writing, as it’s made to look so simple – well she doesn’t use any big words – ha! No even people like Margaret Atwood might not use “big word” , but its the simple placement that’s important. Structure and pacing are things that readers never consider, and frankly why should they. A good read is there for you to enjoy, not to have a lesson in the art form . Thanks so much for this.
hey you’re welcome 🙂
Regarding #9, it’s true you won’t get anywhere if you keep your material to yourself, but … this:
Tess Gerritsen’s ‘Gravity’
Hi Parkino, yes but all is not *quite* what it seems on that case, as John August and Craig Mazin demonstrate in their podcast here: http://johnaugust.com/2015/the-deal-with-the-gravity-lawsuit