Q&A: #1 Essential Advice for New Screenwriters

Q&A: #1 Essential Advice for New Screenwriters

There is so much advice to be given to an emerging writer it's difficult to settle on just one topic. However, if I were to climb to a 50,000-foot level and look down at the screenwriters I've seen find success versus those who never find their way through the maze that is the film & TV landscape, I have found a common denominator among the pathfinders follows a simple “golden rule:”

Understanding how to build good relationships.

People are people. And in a business always on the hunt for the next big thing, it's incredibly easy to forget that on the other side of your tweets, queries, DMs, pitches, and cc’d introductions,  you’re proposing a working relationship between you and another person. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how many times I have had a 15-minute conversation with an ambitious writer, who then attempted throwing their script in my face without so much as saying “please and thank you” for the time it would take me to read and offer them a critique. While I appreciate the tenacity of the writer willing to put themselves out on a ledge, there is a right way and a WRONG way of making that ask.

So if you want to make that ask the RIGHT way, take time to get to know someone and understand their own career ambitions before making the assumption your script is the best thing that could possibly happen to them. Try offering to read something of theirs, or your services if they're in the midst of a task-heavy project. Attempt getting to know them outside of the professional field and pick up a drink tab when you have the opportunity to meet. Try not mentioning your project for the first few months, because if you’ve managed to build a good relationship up to that point, they will likely lend extra time and attention to your own pitch once they finally ask, “So, what are you working on?”

Yes, people like being treated like people. If you take the time to invest in an actual relationship from the get-go rather than just view that person as a potential connection, you'll look back in a few years with an incredible network of individuals who answer your messages and are always willing to take a look at the next project or pass your name along for a job opportunity.

Make the favor secondary to building a genuine connection.

Need networking advice? Check our our on-demand Symposium, "Networking When You Don't Know Anyone."

*Feature photo by Siegfried Poepperl (Pexels)

Ruth Sabin has a secret identity: children’s book author by day and by night... a screenwriter who loves a gritty adventure. Makes for an eclectic portfolio and a fun career of creative consulting.
More posts by Ruth Sabin.
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