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Leonard buddy, I'm with ya'. You took a lot of grief for ripping "EONS" under the topic heading "EONS is live at Zoetrope" -- grief which I thought was unwarranted. This is a "Screenwriting Contests Discussion Forum," not a billboard for telling fellow-writers how great you are. It's one thing to throw up one harmless message about your new screenplay. But that "EONS" screenplay is advertised so much by its well-meaning author that it borders on graffiti. Just scroll through the messages -- EONS is advertised under "EONS is live at Zoetrope," under "EONS is coming but Linda Lovelace isn't ...", (in which the author calls it a "blockbuster") under "You can't handle the truth" (where it's called a "masterpiece") and under "Militant Lesbian Anarchists Rape President's Daughter" in which the author uses the universally-hilarious topic of rape to call attention to his screenplay. I'm sure there are others. The point is if a writer is going to use this screenwriter's forum to post BIG ADVERTISEMENTS! for his BLOCKBUSTER! screenplays, if he's going to demand that we all PAY ATTENTION! to him rather than discuss screenwriting issues, then he at least should prepare himself for some reactions, like Leonard's, which are as loud, blunt and obnoxious as the advertisements he posts.
Any chance you'd share with us what your query letter said that made it effective? Or maybe give a good source on how to write one? I can't write one for my life.
Nathan: I have to respectfully disagree with your suggestion that we just ignore the self-promoters. First of all, this isn’t like a radio, where we can just change the station and be assured that we won’t hear from someone who chooses to abuse the forum. We all have to use the same station here, and unless we speak up against the self-promoters they won’t know how irritating they are. Second, I don't think the self promotion is just harmless banter to be ignored. I think it actually makes this page less useful and less helpful. Here’s an example. Look under the topic heading “Please stop my insanity!” Someone writes in asking about the proper font size and slug line formatting. This sparks a very helpful, 15-message exchange (including a helpful message from you Nathan) about various formatting issues we come across when writing. I learned a lot. Do you think it was a coincidence that the exchange was brought to a complete halt with this 16th and final message:
“HEY! … EONS is on the AZ SP site! What do you think? GOT MULCH?!?!D.G.”
I don’t think it was a coincidence. I think this message stopped the discussion cold. Seriously, who’s gonna post anything after that? So, ignore it? Maybe. But don’t be surprised if we keep ignoring it that eventually the best web page for aspiring writers becomes a ghost town.
Has anyone heard anything from these contests? I received one notice from America's Best about the cut to 330, and thought I read something about them narrowing it down to 50 finalists, but I haven't heard from them again. I strongly advise against changing your address/phone number after entering these contests. You just might disappear.
Just a clarification. By that last message I didn't mean that these contests are not good at updating their contact information. I have no idea why I haven't heard from them. Maybe they're not done judging. I just mean in general, I'm getting notifications slower from certain OTHER contests as a result of my move. Please, no defamation lawsuits. You contests are wonderful. Couldn't be better. Love ya.
I would add one thing about Christian's well-meaning but condescending message. If an established writer ever offered to help me because he believed in his so-called tippy-toes that "it's the responsibility of the strong to help the weak become strong," I'd laugh in his face.
I know about the major contests with deadlines in the spring (Nicholls, Austin, Disney etc.), but can anyone tell me if any of the 19(!) contests currently listed under this page's "Deadline Alert" section should not be missed? And if there's 19 contests with deadlines over the next 7 weeks, how many must there be over the course of a full year?! I would think with so many contests, the significance of winning anything but the most prestigious of them will be watered down to nothing. Maybe I'll save my entry fee(s), buy a bottle of nice champagne, and toast myself for refusing to be taken advantage of.
Wow, 25 postings on one subject. Good, clean conflict. Allow me to sum up: Leonard doesn’t like self-promoters, he thinks they should zip up, wash their hands and go home. D.G. thinks Leonard was talking about him, and that makes him mad and Leonard’s a shit head. Christian doesn’t like self-promoters either, but finds Leonard a tad rude and hurtful to the cause. Leonard doesn’t see any so-called cause, he says writing and success is a singular effort, and he’s gonna tell self-promoters when they’re out of line. D.G. thinks our society is cynical, bullshit and blowhard, and so self-promotion’s the only way to get ahead, and then he went fishing and hasn’t been heard from since. Meanwhile, Christian tells Leonard that in the real world, writing and success is a group effort, not singular, and that he may have to go on strike some day. Leonard says he wasn’t saying otherwise, only that writing’s a lonely business, and he doesn’t like being told by Christian what the real world is like. Then Leonard said he had nothing else to say. Christian then said that Leonard really does think he can succeed on his own, which he can’t, and that bullies are wrong because we’re all peers on the same trail. Then Christian said he had nothing else to say either. Other people said things too, sometimes in support of Christian, sometimes in support of Leonard. Nobody supported D.G.
Well, uh, thanks Suzanne, but really I was asking if anyone had thoughts on which of the upcoming non-major contests are worthwhile, not whether to compete at all. You'll be happy to know I'm courageously competing in all the big ones. It's the smaller ones I need to budget my entry fees on.
thanks, i will.
Nathan: I don't think you're doing anything wrong. It sounds like a good idea, and I totally agree that workshopping is essential and fun. Personally, I have a group of writers that I workshop with in person. For what it's worth, workshopping over the internet would make me uneasy for some reason. I'm not sure why, maybe it's about working with people I don't know personally, maybe it's about protecting my ideas. But I'm probably more paranoid than the average writer, and I'm sure plenty of people will surface who are interested. Good luck. I hope it works out.
Clearly, I have too much time on my hands, because I'm responding here. Unfortunately, it's true. Luckily, I had a dictionary nearby. Interestingly, the dictionary covers this issue. Hopefully, the dictionary says, has two meanings. Frankly, the second definition, "it is hoped; I hope, we hope" does not support your argument. Regretably, the dictionary says that "hopefully in its second sense is a member of a class of adverbs known as disjuncts. Disjuncts serve as a means by which the author or speaker can comment directly to the reason or hearer, usually on the content of the sentence to which they are attached.... The second sense of hopefully is entirely standard." Happily, the dictionary, like you, thought the issue important enough to comment on.
Sincerely (and good-naturedly),
My screenwriting teacher has an exercise for this. He puts up three "characters" on the board, like say, (1) six year old Southern boy; (2) Oxford literature professor; and (3) seventeen year old clerk at a New Jersey Mall. He makes us all list words these characters would use -- not just occupational words, but words they would use given their age, education, where they live, everything. His purpose is to make us carefully consider and continue searching for the perfect word choice given the character's background. I'm no genius at giving a character voice by any means, but this exercise has helped when I've tried it. The other thing my teacher does (he's very big on voice) is to make us study existing films, and look for lines which seem to really give the character voice. One person came in with Hannibel Lecter as an example. The student pointed out that Hannibel is a brilliant man with a PH.D, and far too educated to say to Clarice Starling "I see through you, you're just a redneck." No, Hannibel says "Good nutrition's given you some length of bone, but you're not more than a generation removed from pure white trash." I know, quote the professionals and everything looks easy right? Anyway, that's voice from what I've been told. It's very hard. With practice maybe we can be that good.
He just called me too. Nice guy. Sloppy though, 'cause for some reason my name's not on the 50 finalists list he faxed me. I'll call him back to have this minor oversight corrected.
Sorry Terry, synopsis writing's a singular effort. Quicker you learn that about the real world, the better.
Fascinating. Mark Beam, I re-read Leonard Parker's messages like you suggested, and darned if you don't have me wondering now. Maybe it's true but, boy oh boy ... As I was reading his messages I asked myself, if I was fortunate enough to finally break through and sell something, would my first celebratory act be to post a long-winded message about the man who bought my script, replete with extensive details about his travel habits, his taste in screenplays, his feedback style, etc.? It seemed presumptuous and potentially self-destructive to do this -- first to think he knows the man well enough to write all that, and even if he does know it, it's presumptuous to post it on a public bulletin board along with the man's e-mail address where he can be contacted. Is this something you do when you just got the break of your life? I don't know. Leonard buddy, I've supported you on this board before, go back and check. I hope it's true that in one day you had a $100,000+ check clear, you quit your job, and you started packing to move to Hollywood. But upon reflection, it all seems so...I don't know...clean.
Michael: I have a thought, but I have to preface it by saying that I truly don’t mean this to be rude. You seem well-meaning and your enthusiasm is inoffensive. But I have a feeling that whatever rude postings you got may be do in part to the Joe Hollywood tone of your messages. You are addressing writers -- a cynical, mostly lonely, rarely upbeat bunch (me included) -- who if nothing else have bloodhound noses for, and zero tolerance of, insincerity. I don’t know how to put this delicately, but the messages you post drip with insincerity. You start with an excessive tribute to the writer as some sort of lifeblood of the internet and, having fawned over your audience, then proceed to fawn over your project by describing it as HOT, as breakthrough, as THE script which “writers can only dream about creating.” This is pointless. In fact, it’s worse than pointless, it’s counterproductive. If a writer sent you a query letter filled with unwarranted praise for you, followed by grandiose, generalized hype of his/her script but no specifics allowing you to judge for yourself, wouldn’t you toss it in the trash? It’s like the difference between writing a screenplay in which the audience watches characters experience emotional turmoil, and writing a screenplay which makes the audience experience emotional turmoil themselves. In short, my advice is whatever approach you take to your project, start by chilling out and being real. Take your Headers for instance -- “PRODUCER SEEKS ADVICE FROM SCREENWRITERS” and “PRODUCER THANKS SCREENWRITERS FOR ADVICE.” There’s nothing wrong with taking yourself seriously, but c’mon dude, be honest: you’re a nice guy, with unbounded enthusiasm, who hopes some day to BECOME a producer. And you've got a well-written, original script, which you think can find an audience if it’s executed right. Isn’t that what we’re really talking about here? Watch the documentary “Hearts of Darkness.” Francis Ford Coppola is a humble, unassuming, and relentlessly self-deprecating producer, writer and director. His work speaks for itself. You’ve apparently read a lot of scripts, so you know as well as anyone that if a script is truly well-written, original, and engrossing, there’s no need for exclamation points and all caps. Well, that’s all. I hope I haven’t offended you, but I realize I probably have. Best of luck. I have little doubt that you will succeed.
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