CHOSING THE ANGLE OF ENTRY BEFORE YOU WRITE THE FIRST PAGE.
A writer sent me her synopsis and outline for her screenplay. I read a few paragraphs and put it down in shock. The outline and the script were about herself. She just told the prospective BUYER, (whoever reads synopsis, probably a studio script reader) what a great healer she was, how magical, how like a JESUS she was! This nervy, dumb dipstick went on for pages in boring detail and worse, in a very flat, first person voice, about her own, miraculous feats curing people! I know the girl. She has no degrees from college, no job. She's a nature girl wacko!
I set the synopsis down and dashed off an EMAIL to her. "Gal, you broke the first and biggest rule of screen writing: show it, don't tell it. This rule must be observed even in the synopsis or script outline or treatment. And above all, stay out of it unless you have spectacular credentials. The writer must totally steer away from 'autobiography.' That sets off warning bells in readers' minds. AVOID being identified with your HERO ESPECIALLY if in your MIND, it IS about your own, heroic 'stuff.'
If you are RAVING about yourself and your feats, expect people to be put off. BIGTIME. We all smell pride & vanity and go 'eeeewwww.' Hey, that's why they're both on the list of the 7 deadly sins!
Imagine that a writer submits a synopsis to the studio or publisher where she alleges that she is as fabulous a shrink as Freud,....we know the writer must be an amateur as a writer cuz she's sure one as a psychologist. This dummy hasn't anticipated that the reader/ prospective buyer will be rankled by hearing her toot her own horn in a synopsis or treatment. There are too many nutjobs with Messianic fantasies running around loose today; they're in the headlines daily.Shooting up studios.
Now, if the author says in a top paragraph, 'I have been a practicing Psychiatrist in the prison system for thirty years," then I go 'ooooohh, ahhhhhh,' and I read her writing with respect.
How much wiser would it have been for my 'writer' pal to just show the visual of her screenplay, as they unfold, in her TREATMENT or OUTLINE or SYNOPSIS.. Give the reader a true preview of what the eventual flick will look like, i.e. people converging on an arena, (perhaps this Amy Semple McPherson has some kind of a religous circus in a tent. That's colorful. I loved RESURRECTION with ELLYN BURSTYN playing a healer. The concept doesn't bother me at all. )
Then, show people with disabilities, problems, characters who are real arriving at the tent, and then the Wizard of Oz figure appears and he does something unusual, maybe even magic. She picks out members of audience, tells them why they are there. Tells them their quandry, and the person says 'on target,' and the people go'yeah wow, miracles. Then, we believe she' s the Wizard of oz.
I wrote the dummy " IF THE WIZARD IS IN THE FIRST SCENE and goes on longwindedly telling an assemblage how great she is, you're putting producers & their readers OFF. Bad move for a character and the script reader throws it on a pile. The viewer, were it to get to us, would be out the door of the theater. TELLING us SOMEONE IS GREAT, especially thru their own mouth, doesn't work. Seeing EVENTS works. As an author, you want to figure out/ devise some action that makes the high priest figure really great. Not just tell us he's great. Not just have HIM TELLING US. This is not written to attract anyone. Don't you see how repugnant it is?
Now, if you just meant to stick your own credentials in the outline/treatment, you'd better have had degrees and jobs that prove it. You cannot allege you're Sigmund Freud.
So get some distance, some perspective, writer. See your product thru OTHERS' eyes. Imagine they're stumbling upon this book in the library, they open it and ---?
Read the first pages of your writing, pretending you are an utter stranger. Catch a whiff of self-servicing, vain, self praise? PHEW. Nobody reads it. Nobody buys it. You embarass yourself. Any agent you submit it to will never read anything that you hand them, ever again.
For a COMPLETE free COURSE IN WRITING, visit DAVE POYER's seminar, he has written 20 successful books, among them my favorite "STEPFATHER BANK."Google his name to see if it's still up.
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