This week I attended the award ceremony for Voice/Over: The 9th Annual School of Media Studies Script Reading Event. Six winners had the opening sequence of their screenplay read aloud by actors. It was thrilling to hear the excellent material come to life!
I wish them all continued success in their writing careers.
Why did these six writers win over the dozens of other contestants?
1. The materials were submitted correctly and on time with a brief cover letter.
2. The concepts were original and strong.
3. The writing was good-clear engaging exposition, and strong choices of locations.
4. The dialog was excellent, because the voices of each character were unique.
5. The well-plotted stories reached a powerful, unexpected but believable climax.
Being professional and meeting deadlines is one of the first things producers look for when hiring newbie writers. Your cover letter is the first exposure to your writing so make sure that the letter is properly formatted, uses the correct spelling and title, and is brief and to the point. Including a brief logline can set you apart from the pack.
The concept is key because good writing can’t save an unappealing concept, because no one will want to read it. The concept is the basic idea. For example, Jaws is a movie about a great white shark attacking a summer resort, and the man who must stop him is afraid of water.
The writing must be good. That means a well-structured plot expressed through clear and simple exposition and dialogue that reveals character and advances the plot without being “on the nose.”
While these elements are simple, attaining them is not easy. All writing is rewriting, so patience and diligence is required. Expect to complete at least three drafts of your work, including that cover letter. The first draft is to get the story or the information down on paper. The second is to edit and revise, and the third is to read aloud to easily polish.
I will also be attending the Dusty Awards at the School of Visual Arts, where I teach the Business and Craft of Writing for Television to animators. Congrats to all of the talented students whose work is being recognized!
Here’s to your successful writing!
Professor Marilyn Horowitz