Little Raj Writing Help

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  • Little Raj Writing Help

    Just over three years ago, I posted here on Done Deal. I wanted to start a notes service, or maybe hold a contest, and I needed some feedback. Well, after nearly ten years of planning -- and four years of writing site copy -- I launched a site on New Year's Eve.

    It's called Little Raj Writing Help, and it's over at heylittleraj.com.

    I should probably write a bit more in this space, but there are long, detailed explanations in both the "About" section and the "Notes" section. I may have overcompensated a bit, but since the last thing our world needs is another notes site or writing contest, I felt compelled to explain myself in full.

    In short, I'm offering an affordable, no-frills notes service that can genuinely help both myself and others. Ten years ago, I sold a screenplay to The Weinstein Company, and later made The Black List. I couldn't have done it without a combination of free notes and paid notes. Today, in the notes-giving world as it presently stands, I believe my qualifications are as strong as anyone's, and my prices are as *low* as anyone's.

    I also plan to hold contests that give away a higher percentage of revenue than any contests around. (A much, *much* higher percentage.) My breakthrough script was rejected by every contest I applied to, but just two years later, A-list producers wanted to make it, and A-list actors chased it. As such, it'd be nice to have a contest where writers know the name of the person standing in judgment of their work.

    As you'll see in the "About" section, I want to buy my script back, but really, I want in on the action. If I can't bring my own work to life, I'd love to be a part of other people's triumphs.

    If you have any questions, I'd obviously be happy to answer them. Also, don't be a stranger. Feel free to reach out to me directly, as I was nervous about launching the site (and still am), but I've been overjoyed by the response to it.

    I know the mobile version is buggy, but I'm a writer, not a designer, and I've got someone trying to help with that. Still, if you can get through the site copy, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Also, thank you.

  • #2
    Re: Little Raj Writing Help

    hmm...it's chilly in here lol

    It's interesting, this also my first post in quite some time(years!) but I actually met Neeraj here in these forums, this one to be exact. I was bitching and moaning about the BL, I had gotten a couple of 8's and some low scores on projects that I had been running through notes services for years.

    I started with Script Pipeline when I was 18, doing undergrad at Penn State. Along with the cost of that degree, I spent thousands of my parents dollars(and later, my dollars) on notes services, sometimes getting two or three rounds in a single week. Paying 100 bucks to sit in a webinar and listen to a Hollywood Person, get the opportunity to pitch them one idea, once. I used to think that was a steal. Only 100 bucks to guarantee this Hollywood person sees my query?? Now that's 10 pitches on Virtual Pitchfest.

    I thought if I could crack the online notes service world, I'd be in there. Look at all those success stories! I'm special! The whole thing. And it was special enough, I got a bunch of recommends from Pipeline and Screencraft and other places, got managers and producers to respond to some emails, talked to the people who ran the contests or sites. Attended the pipeline pitchfest in L.A for free in the summer of 2014 after placing in their contest. I've been around entertainment industry stuff a lot because of some work I was doing with music producers, but it was my first taste of L.A life, the film side, me the Screenwriter.

    So that fall of 2014, when I'm in here complaining about BL, firmly in the "it's a lottery that nearly borders on a scam" territory, I had soured on the whole notes service idea. The readers weren't that qualified(oh you have a fancy degree, me too! I was, and still am, the worst), the notes weren't that thorough, the whole thing too expensive, and I'd learned you could get that magic 8 or Recommend and that didn't mean all that much unless your project met a very specific criteria in style and tone. Everybody pats you on the back and tells you you're a great, you're special, and no one wants to give you a dime or take a meeting. And then when they do, the contract is disrespectful.

    So our pal Neeraj here posts in DD, and he's all he's seen me complaining, and how he's had actual success selling a screenplay to a name brand, a name brand attached, and yeah, even for him, he's gotten bad scores and responses on scripts he's made life changing money on. And I'm like SEE! lol and I see this man has put his email info right there on this site, and he says he wants to create a website that's more equitable and useful to writers like those here on DD, and I think does this guy think I'm not going to email his ass? I did it from my car, in a mall strip parking lot, waiting for some Chinese food.

    And it took more than three years to get that site up, I was around for it. In that time, we spent more time talking about our personal lives, baseball, and politics than anything else. I got to watch him go from the creation of a 10 page script only me and his girlfriend had read, to see him get contract offers on it. Watch it fall apart. Have that song and dance happen a few more times, higher highs, lower lows. I stole an idea of his(well, he gave it to me but still) and wrote an entire screenplay out of it, one of my favorites. He still hasn't read it lol we still argue about me wanting to keep his name on it.

    So am I saying, hey here's my personal, real life friend, who I met in this very forum, give money to my fam, nah not at all lol though, if I came across this thread on DD, would I be eager to give him my money, for his validation, for me to find out if his validation was worthless and I am in fact more talented than him, yes, of course. But that's me.

    For random aspiring writer perusing this thread, what I'm saying is you can talk to this guy. In real life. He's done writer things lol in real life, people have brought him to meetings, and given him money, and all the things we dream about so much that it makes us start an account here and post. And give money to strangers to read our stuff. So giving him money to give you notes, important sure, he'll give good notes. He and I have worked together on many a project. I've read this site copy over and over, for years and years. Trustworthy reader. Good notes. Excellent prices.

    But as always, it's the story that matters. And reading through that site, you can steal a lot of gems. The man's got a story. And you can not ever give that dude a dollar and his story can help. He'll answer your email and talk to you about Hollywood meetings, or screenplays, or baseball, or walking around with your girlfriend, and you won't have to give him a dollar. I never gave this man a dollar in my life.

    So what I come to say is, you will be hard pressed to find someone who will beat that deal, I tell you that from experience.
    Last edited by HarryDee; 01-11-2018, 08:57 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Little Raj Writing Help

      I have a notes person, so I'm not in the market for your services, but Raj, when I clicked on the site, and clicked on notes -- I see about 20 pages worth of copy, scrolling down.

      People are not going to read that, my friend. They aren't.

      They don't want your life story.

      They want to see your prices and then a sample of your notes so they know what they'll get. You're selling a product. It just needs to be simpler.

      That's my 2 cents. Either way, Good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Little Raj Writing Help

        Thanks, Figment. I appreciate the feedback, as every opinion helps.

        The prologue to the "About" section explains my mission from the jump. I didn't want to drop bold-faced names that quickly, but I realized that there isn't much time for nuance. The "Notes" section is shorter, but similarly long, so I explained my prices in the first 100 words. When I initially wrote it, I set it up so the reader expects my prices to be high -- in keeping with my qualifications -- and it would then be a welcome surprise when folks got to the end and saw that my prices were as cheap as anyone's. I realized, however, that I should just state the prices in the opening sentences.

        As stated, the bulk of the "About" section is mainly for myself. In 20 short years, I'll be 60, and I want a record of what happened when I was 30. There's so much I left out, but even with respect to the big-picture details, I never want to forget how magical that time was. (I never want to forget how magical this time is.)

        Beyond that, in today's me-first culture, I haven't told the world about some of my note-worthy accomplishments outside of screenwriting. I'm not a shy or particularly modest person, but I've kept a very low profile over the past 20 years. Heck, it feels good just to put up an Instagram, as I don't have pictures or posts on Facebook, just an account. I want to share my opinions, my story, and my life. Granted, I totally get that some people won't read or care what I have to say.

        As I explained, however, when I was trying to make it as a writer, I devoured every origin story I could get my hands on. I didn't mind how long it was, how pedantic it was, or how little it ended up helping me. And frankly, with this site, I think I hit my mark. I've gotten several letters like this:


        "I came across your post in r/screenwriting and went to your website out of curiosity. I couldn't stop reading. Your story is inspiring/tragic/fascinating/intriguingly socio-political/ and a whole bunch of other adjectives that I can't think of right now. It was a real emotion-packed roller coaster of a ride. I hope you write a memoir one day. Anyway, I just wanted to send you my thanks and appreciation. As a terrified 23 year old wannabe writer who just signed with a manager, I found your perspective and experiences on the industry really helpful. Happy New Year and best of luck with the new site!"


        I mean, not for nothing, but that's a 23-year-old who's already signed with a manager. When I was 23, I was eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, spending no less than five hours a day on the New York Mets, and generally wasting my life. As such, while I'll probably keep the "About" section, I do respect your opinion, so I'll look for places where I can cut large swaths of text.

        The site isn't just about making $120 for a script. (Less, really, as I'm the only person in the space who will give money back.)

        I want to connect with people all around the world, I want to make acquaintances and friends, and so far, it's working out better than I could've ever imagined. Sure, I'm not making much money yet, but I'm making new friends. It's not because I have a shopping cart and PayPal buttons where I charge exorbitant fees for everything under the sun. I'm making new friends because I told my story, and people see themselves in parts of that story. For now, connecting with people is just as important to me as anything. I'm tired of staring at a computer all day long. I used to be lazy. I didn't work hard. Now I work too hard, and I'd like to have more fun. And really, I've never been happier than in the 13 days since the site has been up.

        The site copy is for me, but it's also for my relatives in India and my friends from high school. It's for the New Yorkers and Long Islanders whose help I'm going to need in buying back a script from Harvey Weinstein.

        But yeah, it's kinda long.
        Last edited by Neeraj; 01-12-2018, 07:44 AM.

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        • #5
          Re: Little Raj Writing Help

          Originally posted by Neeraj View Post
          And really, I've never been happier than in the 13 days since the site has been up. ...

          And, bottom line? You can't put a Paypal button on happiness.

          Best of luck to you Neeraj.

          .

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Little Raj Writing Help

            Neeraj:

            Your post and that of “Harry Dee” read distinctly similar in style and rhythm. And why does the “Harry Dee” post begin with a comment about the original post not receiving any comments? Hmm.

            All that aside, the Universal, 21st Century, Columbia, Paramount, and MGM logo images on your website home page are copyrighted and trademarked images.

            Example: The Oscar statuette of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is protected and cannot be used by anyone other than AMPAS without their express permission.

            The same holds true for the images you've perverted to suit your website. Those images are not in the public domain; they do not belong to you. Changing them by putting your name on them does not make you immune to any legal recourse those entities could seek for damages.

            If you're willing to disregard copyright (and trademark) on protected images, what would you do with the written material you hope screenwriters will send for your services?

            Antics such as image copyright infringement makes your service illegitimate in my book.
            Last edited by TigerFang; 01-14-2018, 09:43 AM.
            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Little Raj Writing Help

              Hey. You make some good points about the logos. I previously spoke to an entertainment lawyer about them. He said that they won't send a cease and desist because they know it'll create a Streisand effect, bring more traffic (and money) to the site, and make them look humorless.

              Also, when I got the proofs back, I was so charmed by how funny and professional they looked that I didn't consider how they would play with potential customers. To address your concern, well, I've written eight scripts in over 20 years. I don't execute my own ideas -- why would I want someone else's? To carry them around in my head so they can lead to more anxiety and further guilt over me not writing?

              Ideas aren't very valuable. That's why you can't copyright them. It's execution that matters, and I'm an execution-dependent writer. Also, give me some credit! Look at the logline and Black List feedback for "Murder in London." Look at the subject matter. Since 2013, I only write stories that I care deeply about. I've spent six years working on that project. Someone's "Die Hard on a cruise ship" idea is not going to have me running to the library every day for painstaking research. The last script I wrote (and the current one) is about the Indian-American experience. I'll give *you* my ideas, and hope you'll spark to them.

              Harry and I are close friends -- a friendship that grew out of my Done Deal post three years ago. He wrote that post on his own, though he knew when I was posting and what I was posting. I *would've* asked him to provide testimony, but he beat me to it. After it was posted, I asked him to take out two lines, which he did. I'd be happy to forward you that e-mail chain. Or a thousand other e-mails we've exchanged, which evince two highly-specific writing styles. The two posts above, I mean, I think any objective reader can see that mine is written formally, while Harry's is all loosey-goosey. (Just like the thousands of aforementioned e-mails we've shared.)

              If I were going to write my own testimonials, I can assure that I would do it Russian bot-style, where I'd have a small army writing several hundred positive notes, not one.

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              • #8
                Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                ”Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.” — often attributed to Mark Twain

                The sheer wall of text that comprises your unctuous ramblings is akin to a mountain climber staring at the Northwest face of Half Dome.

                “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” — Abraham Lincoln

                “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard P. Feynman
                "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                • #9
                  Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                  Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                  -Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.- - often attributed to Mark Twain

                  The sheer wall of text that comprises your unctuous ramblings is akin to a mountain climber staring at the Northwest face of Half Dome.

                  "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.- - Abraham Lincoln

                  "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.- - Richard P. Feynman
                  Interesting to note that when someone who's actually had success in screenwriting starts a notes service designed to treat writers fairly and well, he's attacked on these boards by irate amateurs, at least one of whom doesn't know what "unctuous" means.

                  And no, I'm not Neeraj Part Three, Hercule.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                    You are so correct.
                    Last edited by TigerFang; 01-18-2018, 03:04 AM.
                    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                      In your "Notes" tab on your site you say:

                      Now, the “About” section offers a partial justification for this being one of the top notes services.
                      No it doesn't -- not even close. Your "About" section is unfocused. It doesn't make a point and you continually contradict yourself. Going back and forth, at times you seem to be despondent, implying Hollywood and screenwriting is not your thing at other times you're desperate to get your "Duck" script back and get it set-up.

                      You lament that you didn't write more when you had a well-known agent at a powerful agency. But you also seem to want to justify not writing. I'm not an agent and have never attempted get one, but I don't think any literary agent will keep a client, indefinitely, when that client refuses to give her something to sell.

                      I'm sorry your script deal fell though. But as you say yourself -- it's unfortunately very common. You had people in your corner pushing for this deal much harder and much longer than most would have and you got paid $400,000. A lot more of a consolation prize than most screenwriters ever get.

                      I don't know why you think a meandering, overly-long, near-diatribe, that could be titled; "My Angst About The Script That Nearly Got Filmed", is a good idea when you're trying to sell script notes.

                      The best advice in the "About" section was written to you, by the unnamed Editor-in-Chief of "Details". But it looks like you ignored it.

                      Dear Neeraj,

                      OK -- I think you have potential. You seem to have
                      balls, and despite a tendency for overwriting, you
                      have some skill at constructing a story. Now, how
                      about proposing a story with a little more content?

                      Best,
                      Good luck.
                      "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                        Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
                        In your "Notes" tab on your site you say:



                        No it doesn't -- not even close. Your "About" section is unfocused. It doesn't make a point and you continually contradict yourself. Going back and forth, at times you seem to be despondent, implying Hollywood and screenwriting is not your thing at other times you're desperate to get your "Duck" script back and get it set-up.

                        You lament that you didn't write more when you had a well-known agent at a powerful agency. But you also seem to want to justify not writing. I'm not an agent and have never attempted get one, but I don't think any literary agent will keep a client, indefinitely, when that client refuses to give her something to sell.

                        I'm sorry your script deal fell though. But as you say yourself -- it's unfortunately very common. You had people in your corner pushing for this deal much harder and much longer than most would have and you got paid $400,000. A lot more of a consolation prize than most screenwriters ever get.

                        I don't know why you think a meandering, overly-long, near-diatribe, that could be titled; "My Angst About The Script That Nearly Got Filmed", is a good idea when you're trying to sell script notes.

                        The best advice in the "About" section was written to you, by the unnamed Editor-in-Chief of "Details". But it looks like you ignored it.



                        Good luck.
                        Speaking of diatribe, did you even read what AnyOtherName just said??

                        Who gains by this type of comment?

                        If you had paid for notes and been unhappy, then perhaps your own diatribe might be deserved, but otherwise it's hard to know what inspires this. Are you worried about his potential customers, or ___?

                        And I couldn't help but feel you're being a little passive agressive, with your "I'm sorry your script deal fell through" and your "good luck." Is that meant to soften the tone? Because here's my note to you on your note: it doesn't.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                          Originally posted by SBdeb View Post
                          Speaking of diatribe, did you even read what AnyOtherName just said??

                          Who gains by this type of comment?

                          If you had paid for notes and been unhappy, then perhaps your own diatribe might be deserved, but otherwise it's hard to know what inspires this. Are you worried about his potential customers, or ___?

                          And I couldn't help but feel you're being a little passive agressive, with your "I'm sorry your script deal fell through" and your "good luck." Is that meant to soften the tone? Because here's my note to you on your note: it doesn't.
                          Me -- "passive aggressive"? Did you even read what he wrote? I know it's book length, but did you start, at least?

                          He was MUCH harder on himself than I could ever be. And the theme of what he wrote was about the "Duck" script deal falling through. He mentioned it over and over again. I didn't pick any scab that he didn't pick at least a dozen times, himself.

                          Your comment is like telling me I'm being "passive aggressive" for telling someone "I'm sorry your cat died' after that person just spent an hour, telling me, over and over again, that their cat died.

                          Who gains by this? Hopefully Raj. I honestly don't think that what he wrote is an effective way to solicit business as an "expert" notes writer.

                          And make no bones about it -- he is claiming to be an expert.

                          His words:

                          I charge $120 for a feature-length script, $60 for a one-hour pilot, and $30 for a half-hour pilot.

                          I plan to charge more. I'm no Picasso, but I'm closer to Picasso than most consultants are to me.
                          So, somehow I don't really think I damaged his "fragile" ego, do you?
                          "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                            My main point of contention with script services such as these is that they seem only to take monetary advantage of writers, not help them. Looking at the pricing structures of them, probably the more you pay, the more they play (with you).

                            Of course, there are going to be exceptions and some script notes services are going to be great because of the experience of the note giver. Is it worth it? Caveat emptor. In some cases, it's difficult to verify the experience claims of the note giver.

                            From all the years of reading, study, and research I've done on screenwriting “how to” methods over the years, the conclusion I've reached is that the serious and dedicated screenwriter must learn to edit themselves.

                            Editing one's own screenplay is as simple as 1.) finishing the script without editing or tweaking regardless of length, 2.) putting said script away for at least two weeks or more (work on something else, for Pete's sake... you're calling yourself a writer), and 3.) pull that script from the drawer or file cabinet and give it a go again. You'll see your own work with “fresh eyes.” Simple, yes, but not necessarily easy to accomplish, I can attest to that.

                            In Step 3, that's where you're changing from writer to editor, and the time spent away from the script gives you those fresh eyes on your own work. Who knows the story better than yourself? Does it work for you when you pull it from the drawer every two weeks? No? Rewrite it again. This “lather, rinse and repeat” process works to make the screenplay, your story, as smooth as a baby's behind to the best of your ability. Then, and only then, would it be ready for the world to see it.

                            Of course, there will be exceptions to any supposed hard and fast “rule,” and some script services are going to be outstanding for some budding screenwriters. Good. If the writer has the scratch to spare and believes it will help improve their work, then go for it. It's a free country. But every reader will have a different take on the script. Some websites have qualified readers, yet they give varied scores on the same scripts. That ought to be enough of a clue to validate this point. When the screenplay elicits the same or similar responses from everyone who reads it, it's either a dud . . . or a winner.

                            My view is that the would-be screenwriter must have the discipline and the nerve to distance themselves from their work and to “kill their darlings,” as the saying goes, and do this without the aid of any outside opinions.

                            Getting back to self-discipline, the dedicated screenwriter must learn to inhabit within themselves a creative persona to create the screenplay (again, from start to finish the first time). Later, in Step 3, they must learn to inhabit within themselves an editor alter ego, a persona who is the corporate raider of screenwriting, one who can slash and burn as necessary to trim the fat and lose the purple prose or whatever else is causing the story to be clunky.

                            I wouldn't know where to find the statistics on this, but I speculate that all the working professional screenwriters of the movies I see onscreen at the local movie theater have the confidence and the self-discipline to edit themselves.

                            It seems to me that the only script consultants the working professional screenwriter would want or need are the development execs when the screenwriter takes a meeting with them. They'll give notes, all right. Why would those execs lay down a big-bucks bet on some swayback nag when they can groom it into a Triple Crown winner?

                            The screenwriter must bet on themselves before they can expect studios to bet their money on the writer's script.
                            Last edited by TigerFang; 01-19-2018, 11:14 AM.
                            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                            • #15
                              Re: Little Raj Writing Help

                              There are probably some here who would prefer I edited myself right out of these forums! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
                              "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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