08-09-2004, 12:48 PM
I have sent out a screenplay to about a dozen producers and agents that have requested it -- the most ever in my case.

Now, one by one, I am getting very positive but definitive rejection letters.

How do you guys handle the disappointment? I thought this was the one, but obviously wasn't.

I'd like to hear success stories that you have experienced after receiving a number of rejection letters. I'd love to hear success stories that have come after rejections of promising screenplays.

Motivate me! Please! :D

William Haskins
08-09-2004, 12:54 PM
i think the remedy for both rejection and acceptance is the same. move forward with your next project. you have very limited control of events that occur once you turn your script loose to seek its fate.

what you can control is putting your ass in your chair and your fingers on the keyboard.

08-09-2004, 01:13 PM
Keep lots of little things going. Don't put all your hopes and dreams on one read (or a bunch of reads on one thing). Light lots of little fires. Always have something next on your plate to look forward to.

08-09-2004, 01:15 PM
Thanks William.

I totally understand the importance of continuing to write, no matter what. It is great advice. And I've watched your posts on here, you're truly someone who knows what to do when it comes to screenwriting.

But I'd like to hear some success stories of someone who has has repeated rejections and then, WHAM, someone likes the work enough to option it or whatever.

08-09-2004, 02:09 PM
Man that’s great you got a dozen requests; at least you know that you’re on the right track.

Keep up the good work and you’ll get there.
:D :D

08-09-2004, 02:56 PM
Every rejection is one step closer to the word, "Yes." Rejection is the norm in any creative endeavor for money. Many are called and few are chosen.

It may have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the work. There is no penalty for people to say "No" and a tremendous risk taken by people who say "Yes." Since the entire business is risk averse, "No" is the norm and the substance of your work may have little to do with it.

Keep trying. Keep writing. Never give up. Believe in your work. Believe in yourself.

08-09-2004, 03:15 PM
this move on to the next project before retooling a promising script is not the way to go. . .

make the script ****king SING.

go to anothe project - sure, but never leave it alone, cold, waiting for you it' s birthmother.


08-09-2004, 05:25 PM
Now that I have had similar experience, I offer the following.

You have two choices. You can rewrite per the notes you received (as long as you agree and think it's the best thing to do); or you can begin an entirely new project and put this one on the shelf for a while.

I advise you to rewrite per your notes. For some reason, you had a lot of interest. Was it the same story (unique and interesting) that our logline promised? Keep that in mind. They liked something about it. Find out exactly what that was, then write to it.

The fact of the matter remains the marketability of your project is a huge factor. Write to the market if you want to sell it. If you don't, then write to your heart.

Just my couple of dimes' worth.


08-09-2004, 11:08 PM
Every home run king is a strike out king, too.

Usually I'm writing some other script, and don't have time to worry about the last one.

And the *writing* has to be its own reward.

- Bill

08-09-2004, 11:16 PM
I finished my first novel in February, 1987. I've written eleven of them nobody wanted to publish. I went to grad school for screenwriting. I've written seventeen screenplays nobody wants. I even wrote a stageplay (no reason).

I guess I don't understand the question. I write because I love writing. I'd write if I were alone on this planet. I often wish I were.


Winter in New York
08-10-2004, 02:19 AM
kullervo, might I suggest you write a book:

'How I papered my house with Rejection Notes...and still managed to pay the rent.' ;)

That'll get published for sure! Then before you know it, everything else you've ever written will be in high demand!

Winter in New York

08-10-2004, 02:42 AM
Rejections are a part of the business.

I've had a handful of rejections but the one that hurt the most was two years when I got a letter from the Nicholl fellowship that my script didn't advance past the first round.

My roommate and I recalled how I ranted for two days because I could not fathom how anyone could not love the characters I created. By rejecting my script, they were rejecting my children with whom I placed all my hopes and dreams.

It hurts but you move on.

08-10-2004, 06:03 AM
They're rejecting the work, not you. Every rejection takes you one step closer to someone who's looking for your script. And, as others have said, keep working on the next one.

08-10-2004, 08:56 AM
Kullervo couldn't have said it better:

"I write because I love writing. I'd write if I were alone on this planet. I often wish I were."

He made me think about why I write. I don't write to sell, although selling would be nice. I write because it's in my blood -- something that I have done since I was a child.

I play basketball and other sports for a release. I write for a release, too. It makes it easier to deal with everyday life.

Where else can you venture into other worlds -- worlds you shouldn't or wouldn't normally go into -- and dream or play or be bad?

You guys are great. Keep the thoughts coming.

08-10-2004, 09:12 AM
Forget about what was and focus on what can be. Grieve a little over the regection if you must, but remember every script you write is an improvement in your skills.

The past really doesn't matter. Only the present and an optimistic view of tomorrow does.

Carson Parker
08-10-2004, 10:14 AM
Nice thread. Many moons ago I realized that rejections were simply small hurdles. It took me a while to shrug them off. It helped that I also took the initiative to find Prodcuers willing to go 'halfsies' with me on a couple projects. After some tough negotiation times and a little sweat and blood, I now have two of my scripts being produced. Granted, it's by two first time production co.'s, but it's a great start...for me.

This may not be right for you. Anyway, just another option, keep the faith. If you have the time and energy, looking into partnerships for scripts gathering dust has been fruitful for some. Take care and good luck. Take those letters and roll with the punches.

08-10-2004, 10:20 AM

Rejection is almost always an inevitable response when writing speculative work. If you get lucky its' because your script was at the right place at the right time. It doesn't mean to say your script was bad or unusable because it was rejected, only that it wasn't required at that moment in time. Take a good look at your draft and ask yourself if it was the best that it could have been, if not, repair what needs repairing and keep on sending it out. Other advice to move on is good advice also, because the more you write, the better and easier it becomes and the more rounded your experience. Experience is what shows through in every script.

If you want to hear a success story, think on this: just about every screenwriter in the business can show you a pile of rejection slips, and that includes all those screenwriter heroes who have made it to the top of their profession.

Remember - you write screenplays because that is your passion in life. If you sell one or two along the way, that's cool.


JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
08-10-2004, 12:04 PM
"I finished my first novel in February, 1987. I've written eleven of them nobody wanted to publish. I went to grad school for screenwriting. I've written seventeen screenplays nobody wants. I even wrote a stageplay (no reason)."

Don't know if this helps, Kullervo, but I wrote twelve novels before my thirteenth was accepted and published as my first novel. Since then I've published four more. I wrote a novel year, and had an agent for most of those twelve years--I even moved abroad, which is where I was first published--but the one that was accepted I wrote in five weeks.

I wrote it off the top of my head in unlabored prose, I had fun, I didn't ponder every sentence and two weeks after it left my house I was in London signing a contract.

Perseverance helps; being committed helps; learning how, once you've sent a project off, you begin something new that same day helps even more. Immerse yourself in it, and believe that it'll be better than the one you just sent off.

From one who's been there to one who I bet'll succeed, good luck!:)

08-10-2004, 01:31 PM
Now JakeSchuster aka Ostroff, that's the kind of story I like to hear.

One of growth and perseverance. Congrats on your success!

Any others?

I feel better now than when the day started. Fired up again!

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
08-10-2004, 02:19 PM
Thanks, base!

08-10-2004, 07:49 PM
My best advice is to learn from the rejections -- what's not working for the kinds of buyers who are seeing your work?

This may take some probing and conversation. Learning how your work affects other people isn't a simple process.

And, it's not just about trying to change your work so those people like it. You may need to change some things, and you may also need to seek different types of buyers. You may need to learn a lot more about yourself as a writer.

What you need to do is to get in there and muck around in the business, learn what works and what doesn't, what people want to see and what leaves them cold. What kind of readers get you, and what kind don't. What you can create that intrigues and captures other peoples' imagination. What kind of work you don't like doing, and don't do well.

My best advice? Get your hands dirty. Get to know people, get to know yourself and your work in relation to what else is out there. You can't do this by writing a lot of query letters and then reading your rejections. You need to reach out and actually talk to people, get to know people, go to lunch with them, meet them for coffee, hear their reactions, listen to their ideas, learn about the difficulties of their jobs.

Not that the person who started this thread isn't already getting out there and doing this...I'm not suggesting that.

It's just that there are a lot of people trying to break into screenwriting who seem to want to do it in a kind of hands-off way. Plunging into the business is a lot more fun and productive.

And it gives you the perspective you need to not be depressed by rejection.

08-11-2004, 09:37 AM
I'm kind of screwed then, MiniBrain, because I live in another state -- far, far away from the Hollywood lights.

I guess my only hope is to write a script so good that it knocks down the walls and let's me in based on the work rather than connections.

Your thoughts?

Now I'm depressed again. :\

08-11-2004, 04:02 PM
I've been a script reader in New York. Not Hollywood, but my point will stand nonetheless.

Even if you have a script you totally believe is a knock out, you still have a big chance that you will be rejected by the reader. The readers are that to eliminate almost all scripts. The producer doesn't want to be bombarded by all kinds of nonsense.

From my internships I've had in film in NYC, most of the other interns who working there got the internships through connections! I was the only intern there who was not connected!

The best agencies will only accept people from an industry referral or recommendation.

So baseballlvr, you have several options.

Move to Los Angeles (the best choice) or New York (second best) and look for work and/or internships in the industry.

Plug ahead through the query routine and pray you win the lotto.

Or see if any of the produced writers here will read and critique your work. If they recommend you as a writer, then you'll easily get read by producers or agents.

By being closer to the action (mainly LA, but also New York), you'll get to know a lot more people. It may even be worth your while to get read by assistants, because many of these people will be producers and agents shortly.

While I love New York, I'm working hard here and saving up my money. Sometimes this fall/early winter I will be back in LA, and I've already made contacts for work and internship opportunities.

08-11-2004, 04:51 PM
Thanks Justino. All solid advice. Are you having any success in your career?

08-11-2004, 05:56 PM
You can make connections from a distance.

(Look at what you're doing right now.)

There's email. There's message boards. There's writing thoughtful letters to people who's work you admire. There's going to film festivals and events in your region of the country. And don't tell me there aren't any in your region, because these things are going on everywhere now.

There's taking trips to Los Angeles. I know a guy who would write or call people and just ask for a bit of their time -- over coffee or just 15 minutes in their office. Some would agree to lunch. His goal wouldn't be to try to pitch his project -- it would be to ask questions and get to know about their jobs and what they're looking for.

That particular guy, by the way, hooked up with a successful screenwriter on a message board and wound up with that person helping to set up his first deal.

I made the connections that got me my first agent while living out of town.

Remember, the great thing about making connections is that you can meet people who can help you make your writing better. It's not just about getting your writing to buyers -- it's about making it good enough for somebody to want to buy it. Most writers can't get there without feedback from talented, knowledgeable people.

08-12-2004, 02:41 AM
My first script was rejected by about fourteen companies before being optioned. Once in the space of the same afternoon i received feedback stating "great premise poor writing" then from a different company "great writing poor premise". If you tried to actually analyze these comments you and your script would suffer.
Well after 14 rejections that took a year to come through i optioned the script to a large company (one i thought was to big to attempt in the first place).
So you have been turned down by a couple, well send it straight back out to a new bunch, act like a demented man on a mission and you will end up smelling of roses.

08-12-2004, 07:51 AM
Thanks Graceandd. That is a very motivating story. Amazing what one person thinks is crap, another thinks is golden.

What is the status of your script? Is it being produced? In pre-production? Sitting on a shelf? JK :rolleyes

08-12-2004, 08:15 AM
all great, inspiring stories and as i read them, each person propping up base, with their own anecdote to beating the 'man', it occurred to me that all the truly inspiring, thought provoking posts are so well written and so rich in texture and truth of their path.

first and foremost, what is the most difficult and sometimes in penetrable mental wall to traverse? DO YOU HAVE talent?

999 out of 1000 pro writers can write their ass off - that was evident even in their first scripts; that word, that gold card into the machine, talent.

Maybe ten people on this entire board have it . . and eight of them aren't ever gonna sell. Ever.

you do the math.

ohh, and my point. . . the challenge to do better. anything that gets you up in the morning excited of it's possibilities is worth embracing.


08-12-2004, 01:59 PM
Depressing statistics from Vig, but not surprising.

Vig, how's your writing career going? Ever sold? Had a script optioned? Won a contest? How many years have you been writing screenplays?

08-12-2004, 02:06 PM
writing four years. never optioned. placed in every contest from austin to nciholl chester, pooolloza etc. . . somis in two.

have talked extensively and cultivated relationships with industry peopel without having to blow them.

am currently ready to accept oscars at all levels of film making including writing jingles. can benchpress five hundred pounds without even trying and once worked as a prep cook at a five star restaurent in hell.



08-12-2004, 02:10 PM
Vig, you're definitely my kind of writer. Smart. Funny. A smart ass. You're gonna make it. If not, you'll at least be able to amuse yourself -- and I.

Do you write comedies? Thriller? Dramas? All of the above?

08-14-2004, 10:49 PM

How many reads did you get for your script before sending it out, and how many rewrites? Most people send out work that is not ready for the marketplace.

Sometimes the best motivation is to find understanding for at least some of the reasons the script was not appealing to the market you blasted it out to. You did something right or you would not have received as many requests for the concept/story.

The reason you are downhearted is because you were rejected (the norm) but still have not learned from it why. Sometimes thats the way it works.

08-16-2004, 10:44 PM
Okay, here's my personal take & personal motivation sort've altogether -- you send out not just a story, not just a query first & then a script, but a BUSINESS PROPOSITION.

At any point along the way, you might locate a champion or two for your script/story/business proposition -- until such time as you are paid for purchase, or given option money -- you are busy trying to find business partners to assist you in bringing the work to the screen.

These prospective champions can be reps orproducer (or who knows)... if they say, "No thanks," you are not being rejected -- your business proposition is.

The motivation is to find the people with whom this material clicks. Until you have, your job isn't done (just writing the script is only partial-completion of your fuller job -- continuing to write other, better scripts & making these connections is the rest).

Hope this helps.

08-17-2004, 06:16 AM
Glad you liked my tale Baseb. One point to consider though, along the way i was given a lot of thumbs up, quickly followed by no thank you's. The script quickly got me an agent and was a finalist in the only screenplay comp that i sent it too, all of these things charged me on. If how ever i had been told consistently by all quarters that it was crap i would of had to of reevaluated my position and maybe, just maybe had to come around to the idea that the script was no good, ditto i was no good. I say this not to sound like an egomaniac but because passion is all well and good as long as it has the goods behind it to give it a reason to be there (which i don't doubt you have).

As far as progress, its going well, but to be honest it was a test to see if i could just get my first screenplay optioned. I did not even attempt to write a second one until my first got picked up, in effect giving me the validation i required to continue, with out it i could not of slaved away all over again over a fresh screenplay.