3. Stack Your Deck

Maybe you finished that first screenplay last year. Congratulations. Or maybe it’s your second and you’re excited about it. In either case, your first instinct is to want to get it out there and make that dream come true. So you think that your New Year’s resolution should be to market it and get it sold.

Stop. Breathe. Step back. That’s often the first major mistake that most screenwriters make—jumping into the mix too soon.

You need to stack your deck. You need to have a solid 3-5 quality spec scripts before you take anything out. The truth is, your first script, no matter how much potential it has, will be your worst. Guaranteed. You need to hone your skills, make those mistakes, learn from them, and apply them to the next script. But stacking your deck even goes beyond that.

Let’s say the stars align and you’ve been lucky enough to see your first script get you some meetings. The first question the powers that be will ask you after you’ve small talked about you and that script is, “What else do you have?” If you don’t have a selection of solid options, the meeting is likely over. The script got you in but what they want to see is that you’re a seasoned writer with some additional proven material. Otherwise, you’re either a one-hit wonder in their eyes or just aren’t as experienced as the other writer they’re meeting with that does have a stack of solid scripts.

So this year, since you’ve hopefully embraced Resolutions #1 and #2, work on getting at least 3-5 scripts done. You can still enter some contests and test the Hollywood waters along the way, but before you go on a huge marketing push, be smart and take the year to really build a stack of scripts that the powers that be will really want or need to consider.

We know, it sounds like a long time. But how fast did last year go? And imagine what you could have accomplished this year had you stacked your deck already last year. Do your future self a favor.

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