Write To Win – Get The Lead Out

Yet another motivational article from BOSI… Warning, the following may inspire you to write.

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” – Voltaire

In 1991 while playing frisbee with a friend in Oregon, screenwriter Stuart Beattie determines he will write a screenplay based on Pirates. He submits the material to the one person he knows living in Los Angeles, an Aussie. Twelve years later the world is introduced to Pirates of The Caribbean.

Michael Martin, who was named Variety’s Screenwriter to Watch in 2008, was living in Brooklyn, New York working as a flagger for the MTA when a car accident changed his life. With his car totaled, he was determined to find a creative way to buy a new car. He entered a screenplay competition to WIN the grand prize of $10,000. He placed second. His submission, Brooklyn’s Finest, made its way into the hands of producers who packaged the film with Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, it will be released by Overture films.

Spiderman is one of Columbia Pictures’ most valuable franchises. The story of an ordinary teenager, having to deal with the normal struggles of youth in addition to those of a costumed crime fighter, has a worldwide box office gross of nearly $2.5 billion. The screenplays were written by a seventy-seven year old screenwriter, Alvin Sargent.

Melissa Rosenberg graduated with a dance and theatre degree from Vermont. She then made a decision to become a filmmaker. Her second produced screenplay was the adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. She was given a “manifesto” written by Meyer outlining everything that had to be included or could not be changed in the adaptation. She wrote a detailed 25-page outline in August 2007, expecting to have another two months to write the actual screenplay, but had only five weeks to finish the script before the commencement of the 2007-8 WGA strike.  

She has since adapted the highly anticipated and online ticket sales record setting New Moon as well as Eclipse. It’s projected that New Moon will amass $100 million over its first three day weekend.

In my mind the examples above represent a simple idea: Play to win.

If you want a professional career in screenwriting dismiss all the perceived limitations that are preventing you from a successful career.

You don’t have an agent — neither did Michael Martin. You don’t live in Los Angeles — neither did Stuart Beattie. You are too old — tell that to Alvin Sargent. You are a minority in a male dominated industry — tell that to Melissa Rosenberg.

I find that aspiring screenwriters in general focus on what they don’t have or what’s not in their control.

Now I could continue to pile on examples of screenwriters who play to win, who simply DECIDED to be successful and who do not expend energy on what others perceive to be limitations. But, I thought it best to finish my rant with this:

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu


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