Friday, 22 October 2010

Aim for a minor miracle... or walk the dog?

I'm turning a new leaf. There was an article by screenwriter Caroline Farrell on the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild website ( She's done really well with her scripts, getting them short-listed, long-listed, chosen, made and her attitude is inspiring.

Basically what she was saying is that there are tons of competitions out there. Any one of them might bring us recognition and even dosh. Which despite being selfless writers, we would all really like. Especially if it's in recognition of our work!

And we all have scripts that might have been shelved for a while. Is it time to dust them down, polish them up, make another pass at and send them out? What use are they sitting on the shelf? Maybe the right person or panel is out there that might love it as much as the last one didn't!

From reading scripts for competitions over the years, I have few illusions. No matter how objective you are, it is still a subjective process. There is taste, experience, mood, level of exhaustion and number of scripts in the pile to read all to be taken account of.

The first script of mine that ever got picked for European recognition - for Moonstone Writers Labs - I wrote in ten days. It was optioned quickly and nearly got into production. I still adore it and have hopes to work with a director on it next year, even though I know it will change quite radically. Which is the point of screen-writing - we need to get our material made. It's soul-destroying having them languish unrequited on the shelves!

I've laboured years over others and had some luck in competitions but I got disheartened and stopped years ago. Now I'm thinking, it's time to try again. I'll rewrite - I'm a different person now, I have different insights, skills to bring to a script/ story/ characters - but a deadline can be a wonderful incentive and who knows, some of us have to be lucky!

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