Why Aspiring Hollywood Writers Fail

No, this isn’t a reaction to the most recent batch of Spec Scriptacular entries. We’ll be talking about them soon enough.) But still:


by David Silverman, MA, LMFT

A breakdown of screenplays entered into a recent screenwriting competition was analyzed to see what types of screenplays got passed over. Professional Story analysts, (people who read and rate scripts for the studio) were chosen to rank the scripts, and then crunched the numbers.

They found that science fiction and comedy were the two genres of scripts written by aspiring writers, most apt to fail.

I imagine the problem with new writers trying to write feature length comedies had to do with a) maintaining a consistent tone and b) inability to write funny dialogue that feels natural.

You kind of have to know the rhythm and logic of why dialogue can be funny and still conversational at the same time. People, who are funny in real life, may not be funny in a way that translates into movie dialogue.

The other most screwed up genre written by newbie writers was science fiction. I’m guessing this is because sci-fi can be so original and weird, with its concocted netherworlds that have their own special rules, that new writers think almost anything goes in that genre.

Analysis of the other scripts showed the third most common failed script written by rookies, was a movie basically about themselves and their friends with little or no real plot. No doubt, they heard somebody say “write what you know,” and they did so.

John Truby, one of the big screenwriting gurus (up there with Robert McKee and Syd Field) has another take on failure in writing for Hollywood.   He refers to screenwriting as the “most difficult craft in the world” and contends that it takes a lifetime to master.

What he is sort of right about, in my opinion, is that it takes a “serious commitment, “to master screenwriting. It takes a significant commitment of time and motivation to become a professional writer.

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