Friday, January 13, 2012

And heeereeee's the Pitch - Strike 3

I recently read an article in the L.A. Times, which I'm linking to at the bottom of the post.

The paragraph that struck me most was this:
Normally, only 10% of the writing process is actual writing. The other 90% is a subtle mix of procrastination and self-doubt. But there was no time for any of that. I had to outline the premise. Figure out plot points. Who are my characters? I don't know!

Don't I know it. Coming up with ideas is the easy part. When you get the incredible chance to pitch a story idea, well that's gold, but now you have to write the damn thing. That's where the line above comes in. With a novel you have 6 months to a year or more to write it, and if you are an established author, your chances of getting the book published is pretty high. Nowadays with indie/self publishing the chances are just about 100%. Not so with TV and movies.

Once your idea is pitched and they like it, you will only have a short time, usually about a month, to write the script to perfection. Features may be longer, but for TV it's a quick turn. This time crunch can either paralyze you, or make you work like an immigrant day worker.

And after you spilled your guts onto the page, the film/pilot may never get made. :-(

There are working writers whose names we will never know, and yet they are making a good living, selling pilots or screenplays, that will never get made. It's not that the screenplay wasn't good, it's just the business. This can cause grievous amounts of self-doubt and procrastination, and yet we are out there doing it again and again. Note: I'm not yet one of the writers making money from TV or movies, but I have friends who've sold projects that have never been made, and they are doing quite well, just writing for a living.

So here's the thing with Hollywood, or any other form of scripted entertainment: THEY CAN'T DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE WRITER! Well, they can do some things, but the writer is the only person in this equation who doesn't need permission to do their job. Isn't being a writer incredible?

The best part is that once you have a manager/agent/good reputation, you can go into a meeting without a single word of your script written, you can pitch an idea. Ha, tell that to a publisher, "Yes, I have this idea about a zombie romance, where the zombie falls in love with a vampire, but they know it's doomed... but I don't have it written yet. Would you like to but the idea and pay me to write it?" With your tail tucked between your legs you squirm out of the office. (not that you'd ever be let into the office in the first place you lowly writer)

Oh, and the point of this story, whether you are a novelist or a screenwriter? Write, write, and write some more! Because if you don't kick self-doubt and procrastination to the curb, you will never get to "strike 3," but you will also never get the chance to pitch it out of the ballpark.


1 comment:

  1. Pitching is a weird process indeed, but it saves you a lot of work in the long run. But I tell you: when I get into "pitch mode" and stop doing actual writing, I start to feel disconnected.

    That's when you take a project you KNOW would be good on the page, but that sound awful when said aloud, and spec it out. Just to get back into the writing mindset.