It is that time of year. The 2013 Just Effing Screenwriting Competition has formally opened its doors for submissions. The Special Guest A-list writer we have on tap but are waiting to confirm is so huge I cannot believe it myself. Fingers crossed that he’s in for sure. He’s so famous I am nervous to talk with him but he has indicated an interest.
Are Competitions Worth It?
If you have read this blog over any period of time, you know that I am quite genuine and authentic. I dislike writing “copy”. I just like to be very real. There is no need to dangle bells and whistles and cash prizes in front of writers. Writers need motivation and they need to know they have a real shot at something. Smart writers know cash prizes are too easily spent on paying off a credit card or going out to a nice dinner. Fabulous. But what does that do for your writing career?
I know first and foremost on your mind is winning but on a more pragmatic level, competitions give you motivation and a deadline. That in itself is a gift. Otherwise, it is very easy for any of us to get down into the weeds with our writing, feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated, feeling like it’s all a bit futile – Hollywood (or the publishing world or insert your overwhelming entity here) just isn’t fair, why should I try?
Look, scripts don’t write themselves and careers aren’t made on Facebook or online forums about screenwriting. They are made by writing consistently, by growing and learning constantly, by getting your work out into the world and by going right back and doing it all again. I read this quote somewhere years ago and it always stayed with me: The difference between writers who made it in Hollywood and those who did not is that the ones who made it never quit trying. I just love that. It applies to so much in life. Of course, I love Thomas Edison’s quote about finding 10,000 ways to make a lightbulb that did not work. And then one that did.
Why Just Effing?
The Just Effing competition is different in a few ways – we offer the opportunity to meet and hang out with an A-list writer that you would otherwise never have that kind of access to. PLUS we pay for your trip to go do so and to have other industry reads at the same time. Honestly, how would you like to have had coffee, a script read, a long conversation and a new friendship with Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air, Xmen)? Pretty neat, right? How would you like to be repped at ICM? Yeah. That’s pretty good stuff. Our winners consistently stay in touch with and receive friendly support from our A-list guests. I am so touched by the willingness of our special guests to really make the time and the effort to encourage our winners. Money cannot buy that access.
Entering our competition is your HOWL to the moon that you are here, you are loving your writing, you prioritize it and you make it happen. And what a thrill to know, in the back of your mind, as you write away at another script, that the script you entered at Just Effing has a real shot at the grand prize. Because our competition is not as giant as Nicholl or some of the others, your odds are really quite high.
Our doors are open now and will remain so until June 15th (well, we do have one super extended, perfectionist, last minute procrastination deadline of July 1st). Go for it, writers. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you have one script ready to go now or soonish, enter it now. You have time to enter another and double your chances.
Here are some tips to up your chances of winning:
1) Get some feedback on your script now. Let another pair of eyes read it. You can use my services, another service, or a very trusted and experienced screenwriting friend. Be careful in making a good choice though.
2) Make sure your first ten to fifteen pages really GRAB the reader. Write cinematically, evocatively and compellingly. Really pique the reader’s curiosity. Make them helpless not to keep turning the pages. Seduce the reader. But don’t stop there. Make every page a seduction. Please please take advantage of the literally hundreds of blog posts right here on Just Effing on virtually every element of screenwriting. The categories are listed on the lower left hand side.
3) Proofread your script within an inch of its life. Have a professional do it or a patient friend. Typos, silly mistakes like homonyms (wood/would, shutter/shudder, etc.) will ding your script immediately. Why let that happen?