Friday, December 16, 2005

Your chances of becoming a writer

Whenever I teach a writing class I always start by saying "there are (let's say) thirty in the class. Two of you will make it." If you hear that and go "Jesus, those are terrible odds. How am I gonna compete with that?" you're dead. However, if you say "Hmmm? Me and who else?" then read on. You've got a chance. And here's the good news: Those odds just went from 15-1 to 3-1.

You have to believe in yourself first if you ever expect anyone else to.

More good news: If you are good you will be recognized. It may take some time but it will happen. Remember, readers WANT to like your script. They're BEGGING to like your script. But the key is to stick with it. Don't rely on one spec. Often times I'll meet young writers who will say "I wrote a great FRIENDS four years ago and can't get an agent." L-O-S-E-R-S. It might take five specs, it might take ten. But all you need is one person somewhere who sparks to your material. And once you're in you're in.

In future posts I'll be giving tips on what I look for in a spec. In the meantime, start writing. You're already beating the odds.

18 comments:

Hoffmania! said...

This little post packs a wallop. What great inspiration for anyone who wants to write anything.

"They're BEGGING to like your script." Bingo.

shecanfilmit said...

These are the kind of posts I look forward.

In my first screenwriting class, there were 13 people. 2 of us are still writing seriously six years later. Well, 3 of us if you count the instructor, a guy who was a bitter Hwood escapee who had one movie produced and a CAA agent, then fell into a string of (black) comically bad luck. His bottom was teaching us, in Vegas. It was a really good test for me, to keep writing with this teacher mocking my work the whole time. I ran into him a few years later and he was a different person - had fallen in love, had accepted that he was teaching, had a new agent, etc. We met a few times for coffee.

I read somewhere that it takes the average working screenwriter 10 specs and 10 years to break in.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

hmm..and I thought I was the loser for jumping up and shouting, "Me! Me! Me! I'm one! Me!"... okay, maybe I was right.

Robert Hogan said...

Great post, sage advice there.

Rob

kairon arnold said...

I came across your blog through John August.com and I'm very impressed by your positive encouragement of new writers.

I had just finished writing my second television spec, and was really feeling myself, until I read your comments that brought me back to reality.

Thank you for caring about the aspiring screenwriter, and telling us to keep pushing.

Lloyd Thaxton said...

Me and who else? There I said it. I want to be a writer. However, I don't want too many people to read my first attempts. So, I'm writing on a blog site. Good idea?

I'm starting to get some reaction. Had three new readers today. Man, not like a hit TV show or anything, but, it's a start.

Love your stuff. It really happens. That's a book plug, you know. Every little bit helps.

LT

af said...

Wow. I'm printing that up and putting it on the wall above my computer.

Alex Epstein said...

And then there's the guy going, "Those are terrible odds. Too bad there's nothing else I can imagine being happy doing. Guess I'll have to keep at it." He's got a good chance, too.

Julie O. said...

Right on. Thanks for shaking the pom-poms, Ken.

Piers said...

I like those odds.

Teisha said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this down. I knew this to be truth, but it’s sometimes good to be seconded. Enjoy the sunshine...

Irwin Handleman said...

i don't understand the need for "established" writers to lie to the masses. No reader is begging to like something, they are begging to hate it so they can stop reading.

Ken Levine said...

Irwin,

It's absolutely true. We are begging to like something. When you take the time to slog through hundreds of spec scripts the exercise is only worth it if you find one or two scripts you like. I'm sorry but my time is too valuable to reading bad material so I can feel superior. No one goes to the effort to pan for gold unless he hopes to find gold.

Charlie said...

Killer post. Short but sweet.

Question. You write you killer spec(s)...

Then what? What's the RIGHT way to get it read? Who does one send it to and actually stand a chance?

Yeah, plenty of books offer opinion on this very subject, but I've found your opinion to be more valuable and rooted in real-world honesty, so I'd love your take.

Charlie

Irwin Handleman said...

Admittedly, writers and others with actual talent want to read stuff that is good. However from my experience, agents and producers, well, who am I kidding, mostly agents, absolutely do not want to read good stuff. They want to read stuff that other people like already. Unfortunately, it usually goes through these douchebags before it gets to the talented people of the world. And I don't say this as a bitter writer who never made it, I made it and I'm bitter about it. Okay, that's all, back to the jokes. I'll start with a funny word - weiner.

Angel Rios said...

Excellent Post!

sawdog22 said...

great inspiration i was thinking of becoming a writer but now i am sure it is what i want to do i am only 16 but i feel i can be really sucessful

Anonymous said...

My name is Alice and I am currently writing a book for teenagers. I love writing and have written hundreds of little stories. I have written up most of the story but I don't know what the next step is, do I send it to someone once it's finished? I am very confused!