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Writers think about two things when they’re writing a script: how do I finish and what will happen when my script is done. Both of these questions challenge the writer with uncertainty. We want to write the best script we’ve ever written, and we want to see it produced and seen by audiences. But how to get to both destinations is often not clear.

There are several ways to check if your script is done. Taking extensive feedback, rewriting diligently, listening to others read your script—-we have a number of steps a writer can take to ensure their script is ready to leave their hands and head to readers who help produce it. (If you want to check and see if your script is done, please go here.)

If your script is ready to go out, here’s what to do:

Ownership

When your script is done, register it with the Writer’s Guild of America. Here’s what the WGA has to say about script registration:

“The registration process places preventative measures against plagiarism or unauthorized use of an author’s material. While someone else may have the same storyline or idea in his or her material, your evidence lies in your presentation of your work…

Registering your work creates legal evidence for the material that establishes a date for the material’s existence. The WGAW Registry, as a neutral third party, can testify for that evidence.”

To register your script, go here

What’s It About?

When someone asks you what your script is about, what do you say? If you can pitch your script in one sentence, and they instantly give you a positive reaction, that’s going to be the heart of your log line and your query letter. It might take you longer than a sentence, but you should be able to spark genuine, serious interest in 30 seconds. This might appear to be a very short time, but you’re not trying to pitch your entire story in that time. You’re expressing why your story is outstanding.

It can take some time to boil your script down to one line, but it’s worth the effort, and a writer should know how to talk about their work as well as they have written it.

Home Cooking

Where do you send your script? Writers often first think Hollywood or some big script contest. Check your local options. Writers think a state or city film office writing competition or grant is small potatoes, but these opportunities have less competition and frequently are adjudicated by people with connections to the industry who also have ties to your community. Your script will find a healthy exposure through a regional connection. Trust me, this route has launched many careers.

A List Of Suitors

Now you want to research the marketplace. Managers, agents, producers. First, sign up for IMDbPRO. This site provides contact information for everyone. Next, find folks you think would be interested in what you wrote. What types of writers do they work with? Develop an extensive and complete spreadsheet of people who you want to read your script. The more effort you put into making this list, the better. This is a crossroads where writers will separate themselves from others. Poking around and getting seven names won’t cut it. Like before, research as diligently as you wrote your script.

One Hundred

Write a very short query letter introducing yourself and your script. If you won an award or something, throw that in there. Got a degree? Maybe add that too. Most importantly, it’s your pitch about your script. They have to be able to read it in 15 seconds. Very quickly. Nothing long.

People who say query letters don’t work haven’t written a decent one and/or did not send it out to at least 100 people. Yes, find 100 contacts on IMDbPRO, email them your awesome pitch, and see what happens. If people ask for the script, send it over. Follow up in 2 weeks. Do what they ask. Try again. Find more names. Let inspiration come to you and follow your instincts. Again, most writers will not do this research or email this many people. If you do, and nothing happens, your script might not be ready. Remember, don’t assume they didn’t read your script when you didn’t hear back.

Maybe they did.

Be A Writer

Through this whole process, keep writing, writer. Writing will keep you inspired and loose. Your attitude will remain professional. You won’t care about the results of your emails. Work on the next one to keep your balance. You don’t want to become a full-time networker. You’re a writer. Keep working on your craft and you’ll get the result you want faster than you expected.

You cannot predict your career, but you can choose to write today.

Watch And Learn

Through this whole process, take notes. Watch for what works and what doesn’t. Don’t beat yourself up if you send 20 emails with a typo. It happens. Learn from your experiences. You’ll get better at it with every step you take. Be willing to put yourself out there and expect to experience a variety of emotions. If you fight for your script after your script is done, and you continue to write every day, you’ll feel remarkably proud of yourself no matter how it turns out.

Remember to take breaks and to not take yourself too seriously, and soon you will meet the one person who sees the wonder in what you wrote like you do.

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