Monday, December 10, 2007

How replaceable are you?

The money and respect a person receives for their labour is usually directly related to the degree to which they are replaceable.

Which is one reason government ministers aren’t the best paid executives in the world.

But seriously. What makes you interesting as a screenwriter is what makes you irreplaceable. What can you write that no one else can? Go ahead, make a list. What do you write best? When do you feel most comfortable and “in the flow” while writing?

Some screenwriters are absolutely the best at writing dialogue, others have a special talent for plot. Some screenwriters write fascinating original stories, while others are experts at adapting novels and short stories for the screen.

You may have inside knowledge of an ethnic or religious group, or perhaps you have experience in a specific trade or profession. Then again, maybe an aspect of the writing itself (dialogue, gags, structure, plot) is what you love doing most.

There are only so many stories to tell, but a unique and intriguing retelling of a familiar story is a highly sought after commodity in the film industry. So whatever raises your writing above the generic, is what makes you an interesting prospect to work with.

The only way to succeed is to acknowledge and nurture what is personal and unique about your writing. That is what makes your writing attractive, not contrived plot devices or derivative rehashes of the latest Hollywood genre crossover.

This also means recognizing what you’re not good at, which is perhaps even more arduous but equally worthwhile. But more about that some other time. I need to get back to work.

Now then, where’s that hugely original outline I was writing about a genetically mutated child prodigy born to an Eskimo mother and an Italian newspaper magnate, who travels back in time in an attempt to prevent the dinosaurs from going extinct …

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