Just for Me

This draft is mine. Keep your grubby paws off it.

Not that you are clamoring to read the rough draft of a screenplay. I’m sure you have books to catch up on, magazines quickly stacking up in your bathroom or on your counter, or even a slew of other screenplays to read. That said, this draft is only for me.

Any screenwriter can tell you that once a script is finished, the instinct is to show it off right away. “Look what I made! Congratulate me! I’m the shit!” And like any new parent, we expect our script to be treated like a newborn. “Be kind, it’s a brand new baby. She’s unfinished, ugly, and clumsy, but she’s all mine. Now tell me how cute she is. Isn’t she the cutest baby you’ve ever seen?”

Except your script is not a baby. And when you put it out in the world, people will point out the warts, flaws, drool, and frankly they will not be polite in telling you how much that baby stinks. And your baby does stink. Because unlike a real baby, a script has not gestated long enough; it is simply not ready for the world. Because a script is not a baby, but a mature, fully grown adult. Sure, there may be warts, flaws and drool in an adult, but at least the adult structure is all there. We find drooling and crying babies cute, but drooling and crying adults? Not so much.

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(for more shirts that argue my point go to zazzle.com)

Okay, before I get on the bus to Analogyville via the Digress Expressway, I think you get my point. And this point is a valuable lesson to any writer. Before you seek feedback and validation, take some perspective so you can reflect honestly on what you wrote. Let the passion and excitement of completing a script ebb before letting others in, and before you let others in, reread it. After a week or so away from it, is it still all you thought it was? Notice any errors you didn’t notice before? Are you happy with all the characters? Does the plot unfurl on paper the way it does in your head?

We’ve grown accustomed to reality show competitions like American Idol and Top Chef where artists are INSTANTLY judged on their efforts. They finish their warbling cover of When Doves Cry or their braised pork cheek and red snapper with collard green slaw and fennel puree, and nearly fall over themselves as the judges offer their cleverly worded (and often scripted!) opinions. They always hope for the best but often get the worst.  Whether the feedback is good or bad, they are always getting slightly more famous (for the time being).

We also overlook the effort that got these players to this level. Even an amateur showcase like American Idol requires hours and hours of preparation, both before entering the competition and during the run itself. How many hours has that singer spent rehearsing one song for this week’s tribute to Abba? How many years of singing did it take to make that voice stand out to the audition judges to get on the show? How many years were spent in the kitchen perfecting cooking technique?

My point is that my script is a baby, and needs to grow up a little before you get your judgy, judgy peepers on it. So thank you for your patience but this baby ain’t ready.