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Home » Archives » September 2006 » Angie Baby
[Previous entry: "Nothing Lasts Five-ever"] [Next entry: "Free the Echidnas!"]

09/25/2006: Angie Baby

Hi all. Oh, such a heart-tugging letter just arrived from Angie in (I think) Los Angeles. She's 35, has been trying to be a writer for many years now, acting as her own agent, and is wondering if the time is right to give up. Oh, Angie! I think you know me well enough to know that I never advocate giving up. And since I think you know that, I think that's what you really want to hear. So here it is:

Don't give up! You've got a number of factors working in your favor: 1. your scripts have performed well in contests. 2. as a "diverse" writer, you're a member of a protected group, which can open up some opportunities. 3. You live in LA, so the door you're trying to get through is right in your neighborhood. 4. Thirty-five doesn't seem nearly as old as it did when I was, ya know, under thirty-five. You've still got time. And in five years you're going to be forty whether you keep working at this or not. So you might as well keep working.

The sobering facts are that this is a rough time for anyone to get a television job. You really need an agent. But agents are hard to find. Lots of them don't want to take on new clients right now, with employment prospects thin. The fact that a writers' strike is looming probably has an effect too.

But these things can change -- a strike, should it happen, will end, for example. And if you continue to add to your list of contests and fellowships, eventually an agent may agree to rep you, or at least "hip-pocket" you, which is a more informal relationship that can still get your scripts to producers under an agency cover. Then you can stop having to try to do it all yourself.

I know it's hard. But all I can tell you is to meet other writers, join screenwriting groups, take classes, keep submitting those specs to contests and fellowships. Maybe start writing plays -- some playwrighting contest wins could be impressive. And I know quite a few people who have written and shot their own low-budget features -- heck, maybe you can conquor the world through YouTube! Get creative about how you approach the problem. But don't be too aggressive with people -- if you come across as pushy, you'll burn bridges. Let your scripts do the talking, as much as possible.

And, Angie, write me again, okay? Let me know what you decide to do.

In other news, a follow-up on yesterday's five-act post. I've received two emails from working writers with completely contradictory information on the future of episodic tv structure. I am informed both that Bones has gone back to the four act structure after an attempt to work with five, and that new ABC drama pilots are being written with SIX acts (although with no teaser)! Well! So, I guess, the wise thing is probably to let your story dictate your choice! How many times does your story turn? That's how many act breaks it can have!

Lunch: tortilla chips with salsa and cheese and a chocolate cupcake


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