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    It's been brought to my attention that some writers do this. Please DO NOT do this. If you catch the interest of a studio or agent with a query letter, they're going to ask to read the completed script. They won't buy an idea or treatment from a unestablished writer.

    You have to show them that you're serious about writing. A completed script is the first indication of that, not only to them, but also to yourself.

  • #2

    and farther to that, in general, refrain from sending out first draft work. it's easy to type that FADE OUT and print it out, put on the covers and brads and get it out of sight. hell, you've spent enough time on it.

    don't do that!

    first draft scripts are unfinished scripts. real writing is in the rewriting (thanks, janea). i think a lot of scripts get passed on as amateurish because they're just that -- amateurish work.

    i read scripts for a while. sometimes i'd get back to the writers and say "hey, it wasn't that good, though the idea was cool. it needs a lot of work", and sometimes the writers write back and say "oh i know and i'm in the midst of a rewrite as we speak -- can i send you the next draft?" no. and if you knew it needed rewriting, why did you send it out?

    it's a bad way to fly.


    • #3
      Strange and Crash,
      I am glad you put this out there.
      "Kill all your darlings." was one of the most important things I ever read about writing/rewriting.


      • #4
        Learn from my mistakes

        I remember finishing my first script, and being in LOVE with the thing. I had it read in front of an audience. I sent it out to a national competition. I was disappointed when it was only a quarter finalist.

        That was 4 years ago. NOW, when I read that particular script, I cringe. I never went back and rewrote it. It seemed like too much work, and I was more excited about other stories.

        And I'll venture a guess that that feeling is universal. Even among professional writers. Hm...go back and labor over something you thought was finished, or start anew with a fresh, inviting idea...

        You get the picture.

        But this is why writing is hard. And it may be why most writers never make it.

        A drawer full of rough (first) drafts will not be nearly as valuable as ONE polished jewel.

        Best to you!



        • #5
          Querying unfinished scripts

          Janea thought her first script was great, and figures the feeling must be universal, even among pros. I know I felt that way about the first feature I wrote with my writing partner. The interesting thing is, my partner didn't think that script was so wonderful. He saw story problems I was blind to.

          At the time I thought he was too negative. Too picky. The script was just fine. I liked it. So did some of my friends. I thought my opinion about it was at least as valid as his.

          Now that I know more about the craft of screenwriting, I believe his ability to be objective about professional standards and clear-eyed enough to realize where we weren't yet meeting them is an important part of why we are now, three scripts later, very close to our first sale. (This is not my imagination this time. Pros are recommending it around town for us, and the president of a major prodco is very interested.)

          Natural talent will get you part of the way to success, but you can really stall at


          • #6
            Re: Querying unfinished scripts

            Good luck on your script Joan!

            Just for the record, the "universal" feeling I was refering to was that it is more appealing to start with a new script, rather than rewrite an existing one. But the real writers do the dirty work that's necessary to create a solid screenplay.

            Best to you!


            • #7
              While I agree wholeheartedly with not sending out or even querying sub-par material, there's also a time to let our little birds fly -- to say "I think this is as good as I can possibly make it, and I am confident it is worthy of consideration." I think that there is just as pervasive a tendency amongst us to be perfectionists, in which case some good material may never see the light of day. It's important that at some point you believe in yourself and your work enough to put it out there. There will always be someone who can find something wrong with your script -- you just need to distinguish when the criticism is purely subjective and when it actually has merit. Universal's reader might love it, while Paramount's reader think it needs a lot of work. Ya know what I mean?


              • #8
                Hey Muck!

                I've heard that rebuttal to the original topic enough times to actually reply this time.

                While I agree that SOME writers can spend a lifetime polishing and tweaking, we're not talking about the perfectionists, here. We're talking about the new writers who "slave away" for a few weeks on a script, then rush to send it out.

                Recently, a successful Hollywood manager relayed to me that 90% of the scripts that hit her desk are "unreadable."

                I just replied to a post in Loglines where I addressed this very issue. The guy's probably gonna hate me, but it's exactly what we're talking about here.

                I'm only thankful that I only sent my first script (attempt) to ONE place. Thank God I didn't run all over Hollywood beating down doors with it.



                • #9
                  Yeah JD. Like I said, I DO agree -- just playing the devil's advocate a little bit. After all, you can labor for five years on a magnum opus and still suffer the pain of rejection because the subject matter wasn't broad enough or your lame-ass query letter couldn't even get your foot in the door. Somewhere lies a balance, otherwise why even waste your $40 entering that script competition?


                  • #10
                    Edison said that invention was 10% inspiration and 90%perspiration.

                    I expect writing is the same.


                    • #11
                      Well, I agree with Crash, at the very least, try to write "The End" before you ship the script.



                      • #12
                        i prefer "FADE OUT" but you know me. footloose and fancy free.


                        • #13
                          But, what if...

                          I try not to promise what I can't deliver.

                          The only "positive" that I can see in querying an unfinished script is this - you see if anyone's interested in this IDEA that you're working on BEFORE you spend 1-3 months working on it.

                          Confession. I actually did this a few weeks ago. A company who had turned me down on 2 other ideas, liked this one, apparently, asked for a synopsis, then passed. That's okay. The script wasn't ready. But, at least I know now that this new script that I'm working on has some potential.

                          I won't lie about it, but you can state in the query an expected completion date.


                          • #14
                            No, it wastes everyone's time...

                            Yellowhair--all anyone will tell you is contact them when it's completed--still a waste of time. Then you put yourself in a rush to get it done, and possibly send it out before it's ready. I'm not sure I agree with this tactic either.

                            To others--If you want to know if someone's interested in your idea, post it on Hollywood Lit Sales as an idea, don't query as if it's a finished script. I know writers who queried people four years ago and STILL haven't gotten around to writing the script. Plus, then you're giving your idea away--anyone can come up with a script based on that idea, but only you can come up with your script.

                            While we're on the subject, another item that's annoying is writers who send out queries, have the script requested, and THEN post on these boards wanting info. Shouldn't you have done that before you queried them? This too wastes people's time, and if you're not serious about your submission, then don't send it, and certainly don't query them. This isn't a game--it's a business.


                            • #15
                              Re: Mocean Mgnt

                              You bring up a point I've wondered about myself, and you have reinforced my opinion. I have often wondered why some writers query companies, agents or managers to read a screenplay, and then question their credentials afterwards. We should be doing our homework beforehand, getting to know what type of material they represent or option, and what their reputation is. There are many resources online, and here on the Done Deal site to help.

                              I'm sure it is only inexperience in the business that would cause someone to query first and ask questions later, but obviously it is a mistake. Thanks for the input.