Extreme Screenwriting

Ah. The thrill of victory!

If only.

What we more often experience is the agony of defeat.

Screenwriting is a sport – no doubt about it. It’s a marathon event; we sprint out a first draft… but that is not crossing the finish line. We craft, we hone, we chisel – we rewrite – draft after draft after draft. It’s like a relay race, in which you are the sole competitor and participant.

The marathon seems endless. It takes us through strange, foreign territories. We plod forward, sometimes into murky dark, other times into relentless blazing heat. Sometimes, we get off-road, and have to navigate ourselves back on course. We endure extremities – and we do this alone.

Finally, up ahead, in the distance, we see it. A finish line – incongruously placed in the isolation of the deep desert. We stagger forward… and, finally we cross the line.


No one has noticed. No one is there. We ran this race alone. We triumphed.

Now, once again, we face the agony of defeat.

We submit our stories.

Last week, I had four rejections. Three of them, identical: “extremely talented writer, love the story, incredible characters, ear for cadence, unique dialogue, love your work…”

Followed by: “… unfortunately, I’m looking for a tent-pole piece… this budget would be too low for us…. do you have anything else?”

I don’t know how to feel about this. Of course, I’m disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? Of course, I want to whine and puff up my ego and snark about “idiots who make money decisions,” but to be honest, I don’t feel this way. I respect the rejectors.

My husband reminded me that the same thing keeps happening. People say I can write – and write fluidly and well. So I’m hanging on to this little victory. Perhaps it is enough to help spring me out of these jaws of defeat.

So, back I go to my projects. Yes, commercial ones. And another tidbit for you all – coming soon – about getting paid to write. It doesn’t suck.

Oh. Yes. I’m printing out my rejection letters and placing them in a file. So I can revisit them after I sell this particular script.

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

About princessscribe

Screenwriter. Creator of things. I love tacos. "Midlife on Fire" Volumes 1 & 2 now available at Amazon.com.
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8 Responses to Extreme Screenwriting

  1. Seth Ruffer says:

    I don’t look at these types of responses as rejections. Each time I receive an e-mail like this, I feel it is a colleague-to-colleague communication indicating the decision-maker might not have thought my submission was something they wanted to act upon, but that something about the work I submitted or query I sent made them feel I: a) warranted the time it took to compose an explanation as to why they were passing; reflecting their perception of my credibility as a prospective colleague/partner; and b) should feel that in the future I could “knock on their door” again with a new script.

    A rejection – and we all get tons of them – is either no response at all; a polite “thanks but we’ve got a full slate”; or, the simple classic, “pass”.

    I agree with you 1,000% – RESPECT THE REJECTORS. It’s too easy to take this stuff personally, and that is never good. These guys have jobs to do, decisions to make, in an industry that is on its best day fickle, unpredictable, unstable and very, very, very subjective. No one wants to be the guy who rejected The Beatles telling them guitar bands were on the way out; no one wants to be the guy who said Ishtar was a great script, well worth the zillion-dollar production. So the “rejectors” are always in a precarious position, and sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong, just like we are about our scripts-except frequently they’ve got a lot more at stake.

    As usual, great piece, Your Majesty!


  2. I was once advised to use my rejection letters as wallpaper. Of course, I get all my rejections lately by email, and I don’t want to kill a tree….

    In conclusion, the victory here is, you got read 4 times in one week. It’s not clear to me why your script was submitted to someone that had no intention of making it, but that’s the way this works, apparently.


  3. Jan Militello says:

    View from the bleachers:

    “Extremely talented writer” = You’ve been drafted into the big leagues.

    Last week, I had four rejections = Last week you played all four quarters.

    “Love your work” = Wave buh-bye to the bench warmers. You’re a starter.

    Your work is being read and it is getting positive feed back from studios/production companies looking for “a tent-pole piece” = This ain’t no fantasy football….And, you made it to the play-offs.

    “Do you have anything else?” = An open invitation to the Pro Bowl.

    Now, go suit up.


  4. John Arends says:

    I’m with Jan, on all counts: “…Do you have anything else?” is an invitation, nothing less. It says, “We’re glad you’re here, you belong in the game; show us, please, everything you’ve got.”

    Besides, wasn’t it David Lean who said he loved the desert, because everything was so…clean?

    You’re in great company, YRH!


    • I am in no way complaining!! I am tired. I am frustrated. I am [perhaps] throwing a teensy pity party… yet, I remember the days of writing scripts that were no more than Big Turds, and hope/pray that I have learned my lessons and moved onto better, stronger, faster storytelling.

      I hope.

      Please. No more stinky turds. Please.


  5. Amy says:

    STORY STRUCTURE, STORY STRUCTURE, STORY STRUCTURE – go see Kal’s excellent work at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html


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