Do you think writers get an idea that if they’ve written a couple of scripts about, let’s say, being a millennial trying to find a job, that they’re going to just be able to keep writing stories about millennials trying to get jobs? Do you think they don’t understand that if they’re going to be up for a writing assignment, the writing assignment is going to be something else?
Exactly. If a writer has written two scripts very similar to each other in tone and genre I start to wonder. It gives me pause. How limited are they? One key aspect of a really talented writer is understanding humanity and how people act within certain situations. It adds more authenticity to your writing. A lot of people will write whatever voices are in their head, which is fine, but you have to filter that through humanity. You have to have a good read of people in general to write an effective character. That’s why I love sketch comedians because they are in touch with humanity every day. To actually appeal and resonate on a comedic level with people, you are touching them on the most basic human level. If you can make someone laugh, that’s an unbelievable shared experience.
When you’re reading a submission and you look at the cover page and it says St. Louis or Philadelphia does that factor into whether you’re going to pursue them as a client?
Logistically speaking, if I get them meetings will they show up? If they are willing to come out to LA for some meetings, I can get them a couple of meetings in a set window of time. To limit myself by region, I think I’d be doing a disservice to myself. Not every talented screenwriter is going to live in LA.
Do you have any general advice for writers?
Just try to find your own voice. Stay authentic to what you want to write. Unless you know where your strengths are, you’re not really going to make any committed decisions in your writing and I think that’s what reflects in any script that I read, is that someone made a really strong choice that was authentic to them and that’s what resonates and just leaps off the page. New writers, even if they’re just out of college or it’s a hobby, try to find a community where you can have an outlet. Get into a writers group where you are exercising that creative muscle and also desensitizing yourself to criticism. Thicker skin…they’ve got to have thicker shin or you’ll drive yourself crazy.
It’s such a personal thing. It’s so hard to divorce yourself of the idea that your script is an extension of you.
At least you know they’re putting a lot of themselves into the script. It’s almost like online dating. You’re putting your profile out to the world and you hope it’s good enough but sometimes it’s just not. You have to roll with the punches.
Are there common mistakes you see in writing?
I would say, don’t write anything autobiographical unless you are a famous politician.
With a sex scandal.
Right. When people say, “write what you know,” people think that means they can only write about things they’ve experienced. It gets lazy. You’re not allowing your imagination to operate outside of your experience. You should always be learning new stuff, about the human condition, about society around you, so everything you learn becomes what you know. That’s how you come up with fresh ideas. Always be learning about the world, about you, about other people. That will positively influence your writing. It can only help your writing. It can never hinder it.