Yvonne Grace and Phil Gladwin here.
We want to talk to you about one of the biggest barriers you face in getting your script optioned.
The fact it’s probably not even getting read!
When you’re a writer it can seem shocking that many production companies, writing initiatives and screenwriting contests don’t read the entire screenplay before they reject it.
In fact, it’s actually worse than this.
Many places will discard a spec script after reading just ten pages.
How can anyone seriously hope to assess a writer and a story like this?
Over the last two decades we have worked with enough writers to know first-hand what it is to slog over a story for weeks, months or years.
So we know how BAD it feels to be judged on ten pages in this way.
Yet as script executives we can see valid reasons for things being this way:
Time is always short.
The script pile is always high and getting higher.
The pressure to get things greenlit is massive.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the week.
You always need a more efficient way of doing your job.
Luckily (from their point of view) there is something else that helps the weary script exec:
The simple fact that a script that fails to grab you early on is unlikely to get much better after that.
That’s why so many readers are allowed to stop around that mark.
It’s not malice. It’s not laziness. It’s simple pragmatics.
There are exceptions of course, but, in general, it’s pretty plain to see how a script is shaping up after ten pages.
If readers read just ten pages, they may miss one or two gems, but they’re saved from having to read fifty or one hundred scripts that misfire.
This is the real reason why the First Ten Pages concept exists.
Writers have a big problem
So, given how hard it is to get your script read in the first place, you absolutely need
to be giving your first ten pages the best chance you can.
Your writing needs to be confident.
You need the right ‘angle’ into the story.
Your dialogue should be sharp and punchy.
Your characters should engage the reader.
The stage directions should give you what you need to get into the scene without overloading you down with unnecessary description.
You need the read to be near effortless.
It must be a ‘page-turner’.
You need a surprise or two.
You need your story to grip.
You need your story to grip.
Most of all, after ten pages, you want your reader to be desperate to know what happens next.
We can fix it in our First Ten Pages, Start Your Story Engine course
NOVEMBER 12th 10 – 6pm BIRKBECK COLLEGE London WC2
Here’s what happens.
Two weeks before the weekend (by Fri 28th October) you send us the first ten pages of your script.
Phil and I read them all, and work out which of us is best equipped to help you, and we divide you into two groups – six to work with Phil, six with me.
On the day we get going straight away, and go round the six scripts.
In each group we’ll read an extract, then Phil and I will give notes and lead discussion on what’s working in the script and what needs work.
Each of you will get approximately 40 minutes on your script, and be able to listen to the sessions of the others in your group, so you can learn from them too.
Then the guests arrive.
Jean Kitson, literary agent from Kitson Press.
Charlotte Essex, ex script editor and producer at EastEnders, currently working at Mainstreet, script-editing Debbie Horsfield’s new 6-parter for BBC1.
Kate Verghese, ex. script editor and story producer at Holby City, now regular writer for the show.
Each of these three have a powerful story instinct, enhanced by years spent working with stories, pitching, and hearing pitches.
We’re going to have our own speed pitching event with them.
This is a good bit: every writer on the course gets five minutes alone time with each guest to pitch whatever they want.
Jean is an agent who always has her eye on new writers.
Charlotte is a rising star script editor, who is building the list of writers she works with.
Kate has spent years dealing with story after story – and as Holby Story producer she is used to hearing pitches and knowing which work, which don’t, and what could be done to fix them.
You can pitch whatever you want to each of them.
The script you’ve brought to the course. A passion project or two. Even something you’ve invented on the day and you just want to see whether they think it will fly.
After this excitement, we’ll adjourn to the pub for a much needed relax.
The next stage is that you get until Monday 21st to rework your script according to the experience and the feedback from the workshop.
This is deliberately tight, as it’s exactly how the industry works, and it absolutely mirrors what most new writers go through when they have to combine their day jobs with their first commission or two.
You send the new draft back to us – and then it gets really exciting.
We pick the top six and send them on to Ashley Pharoah.
Ashley, creator or co-creator of Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Wild at Heart, Eternal Law, Paradise Heights, and Where The Heart Is.
Ashley, whose Victorian ghost drama The Living and the Dead was a massive success earlier this year.
Ashley, who has his own production company Monastic Productions.
Ashley reads each of the six, and then on the evening Tuesday December 6th, Phil, myself, and the six writers meet with Ashley in London, and he personally gives each writer individual feedback on their script.
He’ll tell you what he thinks works, what needs work – and you can ask him what he would have done!
How good is that?
Tickets for the entire event are £299.
Email me HERE to arrange payment.
We expect seats to sell fast, so please don’t delay if you’re interested.
Yvonne and Phil.
PS. I think this workshop is the best, most action packed event I’ve ever put my name to.
Phil and I have set out to design an event which helps you as much as we can.
We’ve tried to get as much value into the weekend as we possibly can.
This is an amazing learning opportunity, and with people like our guests in the frame who knows where it could lead.