Peggy Bechko’s Writer’s Resume Do’s and Don’t’s

by Peggy Bechko

So, have you ever thought of a resume to go with your screenwriting endeavors?

Probably not. Many writers think their scripts or manuscripts ARE their resumes. It would seem logical. The emphasis being put on the actual work at hand.

Yeah, well, every field needs a resume. Everybody else in the writing industry whether at publishing houses or studio needs a resume. You know that treatment or other ‘leave-behind’? You might well need to leave a resume as well.

After all, whomever you’re submitting to has a ton of scripts and applications always overflowing the inbox and doesn’t’ have the time or the inclination to simply pick up your script and read upwards of 120 pages to see if you have what they’re looking for.

What to do?

First, as with all things writing, remember to keep it short and concise. If you’re using email (and most folks are these days) then what you’d put in a resume is what would be in the body of the email – not as an attachment.

Now, here are some hints as to what to include, and don’t think as a writer that every suggestion here needs to be included. Pick out what speaks to you and what would speak to someone reading it. Format can be debated to hell and back, but basically keep it clean and easy to read.

1. If there are some credits you can quote then by all means do so. But it doesn’t’ have to be ALL your credits. If you have film credits list the most known and only 2 or three. (yay for you!)

Only one produced? Then get a youtube link and include that. Nothing produced yet? But you have optioned or sold scripts? List them.

2 If you have a Degree, mention it – if it’s applicable to the writing.

If it’s from a known film school, list it. A known mentor? Mention him or her. New Writer? List known conferences, workshops, online classes and the like.

3. Have a web presence? Mention your LinkedIn Profile, your Twitter handle A presence on IMDb if you have it, maybe a Facebook ‘fan’ page. Let Then know you exist and could well have a platform for publicity should a project get made.

4. Placed well or (hallelujah!) won a screenwriting contest or any writing competition? Some don’t care. Some think it’s big. Make it clear.

List the competition title, the genre, and the year & month along with the title of the script.

5. Anybody in the entertainment world endorse you? If they’re at least Somewhat ‘known’ in the entertainment industry quote their complimentary endorsement of you – but be sure to check with that person before you do!

6. In this techie era mention screenwriting software you know how to use. Also mention any screenwriting software you own.

And while it’s not A good idea to overwhelm, you might also mention you can use such tools as skype, google docs, excel or any other software that could be pertinent. It may seem basic, but small things can throw up roadblocks.

7. If you’ve done any successful commissioned work, tell them! Give your job title and how long the project took and of course who it was that commissioned you.

There are other things you could mention like your expertise with the subject matter. Don’t exaggerate, but if you have specific experience, mention it.

Written in other fields Novels, articles, etc.? Mention it; but don’t be too long about it. This would be mostly to add more diversity to your writing career and diversity to your abilities but don’t go nuts on the details. Think ‘elevator pitch’.

Those are just a few examples about what you might relay to a potential contact for your scripts. Pick and choose what you might use in accordance with who you intend to give it to.

And a few cautions of what NOT to do…and a couple more dos.

Don’t brag about a whole lot of scripts on your shelves that haven’t sold. It’s hard to sell a scripts, of course, but you don’t want the producer thinking, “if he/she has so many scripts, why aren’t any of them sold?” – right?

Do tell the producer how you found them, what made you want to approach them with your project.

Don’t bother revealing your geographical location unless you have to. Lots of stuff is being done remotely though there are some sticklers who want you nearby.

Finally, remember appearance. You already know the look of the script can make or break a sale. Nobody likes slipshod and sloppy. Same applies to the first email that hits their eyeballs. If the writing in it is disorganized, scattered and (horrors!) lengthy beyond boredom, then that’s the way the person reading your email will project your ability to write.

Be concise, be direct, be brief, be informative. Just as, I hope, this post has been.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.