Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Most People Fail at Screenwriting & How to Give Yourself the Best Possible Chance at Success

by Jacqueline Fauni

Aspiring screenwriters are acutely aware of the slim, bordering on impossible, odds that they'll find success in their chosen profession.  Finding success can become a fingers-crossed, Goldilocks act -- hoping for just the right balance of hard work, talent, and luck.  Sounding familiar?  But when Corey Mandell brought this up on Sunday during the encore presentation of his seminar, Why Most People Fail at Screenwriting & How to Give Yourself the Best Possible Chance at Success, he simply said, "I disagree."

Why?  Corey believes that most aspiring screenwriters fail not because they don't have the right connections, or because they don't have enough talent, but because they aren't equipped with certain skill-sets needed to write on a professional level.  He teaches these skill-sets, rather than the more common structure-based class.  We love it!  Here's a brief rundown of the skill-sets:

1. Writing in compelling cinematic conflict.  This may sound obvious to the experienced writer, but it isn't always so simple.  Corey's goal is to get writers to the place where they are naturally writing conflict without thinking about it.  Developing this ability is crucial, since a screenwriter's first priority is to grab their readers' attention and make them want to keep reading.

2. Creative integration.  Many writers tend to write either conceptually or intuitively.  Conceptualists are more inclined to start with a concept and focus on structure, while intuitives focus on organically developing their characters and theme.  Successful writers can do both.  Training yourself to integrate both your conceptual and intuitive sides in your work can prevent you from letting the one you're naturally best at dominate and handicap your storytelling.

3. Process.  One problem that writers may unknowingly face is that they're using a writing process that doesn't work best for them.  In Corey's class, writers try different processes to discover which ones help them create their strongest material.

4. Structure.  Corey likens a great script to a fine wine in a fine glass, with the glass as the screenplay's structure and the wine as the writing itself.  Rather than imposing a universal formula to your work, learn how to find a custom-made glass for your particular wine -- or how to create a structure that supports and enhances your own story.

5. Rewriting.  As daunting as it can be, writers know that rewriting is an extremely important part of the writing process.  Unfortunately, it can turn into a huge waste of time and effort when it doesn't really improve your work.  The trick is to learn how to be critical about the critiques you get and figure out how to make changes that improve, yet still preserve the essence of the movie that plays in your head.

To learn more about Corey's classes and how to develop these skill-sets, click here.

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