I often hear writers complain about how unfair screenwriting is. I myself have felt this way many times. We’re told many different things on how to write a script, completely contradictory advice. One blog says one thing, another podcast says don’t do that. We go to a famous screenwriting conference and the panelist tells an amazing story about how their script got sold, and then we go to the next panel and they advise the crowd to ignore the very approach.
The Entertainment Industry is Not Fair
The writing of the screenplay doesn’t make sense if you add up all the things we are told and told to buy. And when we finally write a script people like, we can’t seem to get a straight answer on where it’s supposed to go. You wait months for people to read it. People make promises and then vanish. We sign agreements and watch nothing happen. Again, we find people do and say things that don’t add up.
And at the end of the day, after finally writing something beautiful and seeing the script stay in our computer, we go to the movie theater or fire up Netflix and we watch a story that is completely unengaging for a couple dozen reasons.
How did this show get produced? Why? Because someone went to the same school as their friend? The actor of the moment said yes?
It’s like a comic book. Maybe it’s not. It’s not diverse. Yes, it is. It’s horror. It’s the new horror. It’s the old horror. It’s not real horror.
Can they all be the reasons something was produced and my script was not?
Writers Complain About Writing
It doesn’t seem fair that the process of writing doesn’t seem fair, the industry doesn’t seem fair, and it definitely is completely unfair when huge budgeted movies are really boring, don’t make sense, are not funny, and generally suck.
We can definitely build this case—-screenwriting is not fair. The experience is discouraging and we can tell you why. And you can read why all over the internet.
Why do you think there are so many books and podcasts and videos and screenwriting contests and consultants and panels?
Because writers want it to be fair.
Writers want someone to make sense of it all.
They want to get on a plane and fly to a screenwriting conference in Texas and have the whole thing finally feel fair, have that one panel, that one speaker, say that one magical thing that will make it all seem fair and drive the frustration away.
Professional Writing is Not Fair
If you want to make a case for why there is no justice to the craft of writing, the business of storytelling and the current state of the entertainment industry, you can make it. You’re right. The conferences will fill up, the books will be sold, the podcasts will have another episode. There’s no bottom to this. Why?
Because it doesn’t matter and it’s not important.
Story is still ruled by one thing—-emotion.
The business is still ruled by one thing—-the heart.
The audiences still respond to one thing—-the truth.
It is the law that never ends.
Do not believe there are answers or rules or the right way. Listen to advice without desperation. The truth is you do not need any help. Go for the parties and celebrate how impossible the task of the story is. We don’t want it to be fair or easy.
Writing stories for strangers is difficult because it is not logical, or measured or reasonable. Why expect your experience to be anything but a path of beautiful twists and soul-crushing setbacks?
This is the road we hope to take our audience on, to a cathartic, wonderful end.
This is the path of writing stories for the world, beautiful and bewildering. Don’t expect peace on the job, but a deep reward of touching the lives of others.
It’s just you and what you write today.
That’s what is truly fair, and so it is.
By: Gordy Hoffman