I’m a first-round reader for a film festival this year which means I’m working my way through a large stack of screenplays, television specs, and pilots. My tangible reward is a pass to the festival this fall. A festival I attended last year because I had a couple of scripts make into the second round and I wanted to go network and see what it was all about. A weekend that was amazing and fun and that I want to attend again (especially for free!).
The less obvious reward is the knowledge that I’m gaining. The past six weeks have been a crash course in scriptwriting, mostly what not to do, and will likely provide me with many blog posts. But the first lesson, the one that stands out above all the rest, is-
Don’t be boring.
I’m bored by 90% of the scripts I read. Even some that I send on because they are technically excellent and have at least one complex character and resolve all their plotlines and have realistic dialogue and a great hook and a few laughs.
All that is great. In fact, it’s necessary if you plan to make a career as a writer. But it’s not enough.
You can’t be boring.
How do you stop being boring?
I’ve read a handful of scripts that clearly tried to not be boring and it came off as awkward or unskilled. They took a risk and it did not pay off.
(I’ve also read a handful of scripts that are terrible. Like, they’ve possibly never read a screenwriting book. Maybe never even seen a TV show or movie.)
On the other hand, I’ve read a couple of scripts that took a risk and turned out amazing. As in, if I had any way whatsoever to finance a film I’d make them.
But 90%? Solid, well written, and dull as gravel.