If you couldn’t tell by the title slug, I’ll be discussing the sea of “How to write the next best selling, million dollar screenplay in one afternoon” book out there. First of all, I am by no means an expert on any of this. But this I do know: I’ve become a syndicated cartoonist, written four screenplays and optioned one, and this is my first book and they all have one thing in common. They all took hard work. No magic pills, no secret formulas. No shortcuts.
Now I’m not saying that all these books are useless. There are a few gems out there and even some of the snake-oil salesman books have a couple good tidbits in them. But what’s the difference? Well it’s pretty easy to tell the gems from the fiery bags of crapola: just check the author’s credentials. Simply put, if you haven’t written a bestseller or sold a script for a million dollars, how can you teach someone else to do it? Better yet, wouldn’t you be writing bestsellers and million dollar scripts instead of wasting your time writing about doing it?
So why do so many of these books sell? Simple. It’s the magic pill you see advertised on TV. Don’t like to exercise? No problem, there’s a pill for it. Hell, there’s a pill to replace any activity that might cause you to break a sweat or make you feel uncomfortable or might just take up time. Hand over your $100 or whatever and get your magic pill.
Now before you toss me off the negativity cliff, there are a lot of useful books out there on writing. Many have to do with organizational skills or time management. The real gems are the ones written by those who have done it. And the mother of all gems for writers is “On Writing” by Stephen King. I’m sure a lot of people were excited to get their hands on this one. All the secrets behind King’s success. And I’m sure many were disappointed to learn the secret was just good ol’ hard work. It’s that kind of epiphany that keeps the aspiring novelist herd sparse.
But if you’re really dedicated to writing and you know you have it in you, the book is a treasure. You realize that your not alone in the blazing fifth circle of hell (which technically is owned by lawyers but they sub-lease it as a writers’ co-op). You learn quickly that it doesn’t always come easy to the best of the best.
To sum up I’ve altered an old cliche: Those that can do, those that can’t teach. But there are a rare few who can, and do, and choose to teach. These are the ones you must seek out and learn from. Stephen King was just nice enough to chuck it all into one book for ya.
Enough ranting for now. More artwork tomorrow.