As the Recurring Feature Header above implies, I will be blogging, on a regular basis, about John August and Craig Mazin’s Scriptnotes weekly podcast. If you’re not familiar with it, you should be. It’s a free weekly Masterclass on screenwriting by two people who know what they’re doing. (I’ll always be blogging about an episode that is still free at the time I am posting. The last 20 weeks are always free; the older episodes are available through a monthly subscription at a crazy low price.)
Sooooo… why did I choose to start with an episode from last month? The reason I started with Episode 278, is that it features a great question (at 52:32 mark) from my sometime-writing-partner and longtime-friend, “the wonderfully named,” Tully Archer.
I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, but Tully’s question is a good one: Should a person “write wild,” skipping from one genre to another — or– Should a person stick to one genre to become known within that specific genre?
I’ll tell you my answer at the end the end of this post. Tully’s answer was that she can’t fathom not “writing wild.” Mazin’s answer was to “write wild” until you get pigeonholed in a particular genre. (Then you’ll have a decision to make on how to proceed.) John August agreed somewhat. However, he pointed out once you are pigeonholed (unless you love that genre) you should use whatever cache you have at that point to break out of the stereotype. Then, John August added, “Write the script you’ll finish.”
There rests my answer. Writers have thousands of stories in their heads, but I can tell you the next four film scripts I’m writing. I’m “writing wild” the four that I know I will finish. I know I will finish them, because these four stories are the four I think will sell over the next few years. There’s a reason we call this “show BUSINESS.” If you don’t finish a script, you can’t sell it (usually). If you don’t start selling something, the issue of pigeonholing will be moot.
Getting back to the issue of genre, my next four scripts are a romcom love triangle Christmas movie, a romcom love triangle (with talking dogs), a mother-daughter dramedy, and a family dramedy. Writing wild — but all with the same Jon Meyers tragicomic tone. The common thread is I will absolutely finish all four.
If I were to write outside this wheelhouse of mine (let’s say, a horror or a war movie, for instance), the end result would be– well, non-existent, because I would never finish such a project. Other people would be just the opposite.
If you’d like to add your own two cents to the topic, I’d love to hear what you have to say in the COMMENTS below. And as Tully would say…
(PHOTO CREDIT: Graphic adapted from JohnAugust.com)