Thursday, June 03, 2010

Storyteller’s Rulebook #25: Always Do the Right Thing

Writers’ Code of Ethics (Especially Screenwriters, But Others Too, I Assume) Preliminary Draft...

  1. You must never send a first draft to anyone, not even your best friend. You must proofread and revise it at least once on your own.
  2. You must never send a full script to anyone who has not agreed to read it.
  3. If you agree to read someone else’s script, you must read it and respond within three weeks of receiving it. If you just can’t finish it, you must tell them that and tell them where you gave up on it.
  4. If you want notes, you must request them.
  5. If you agree to give notes, you must give them, keeping in mind that you should pre-establish what sort of notes you’re willing to give.
  6. If you get notes, even dismissive ones, you must accept them, say thank you, and understand how lucky you are to get them. It is valuable to know if your project is dismissible. It is even more valuable to know why they are dismissing it.
  7. If they are notes from a friend, you do not have to address all of them, but you have to believe that every note you receive represents a real underlying problem. You must remember that everyone you send your script to will have a million bad reasons to praise it, but no reason to criticize other than a desire to see the material improve. Nobody gives notes to undercut someone else. If they had wanted to undercut you, all they had to do was not read it or not respond.
  8. If they are paying you, you must address and fix every note, unless you want them to be very upset. If you don’t use the fixes they suggested, you must have very good reasons and alternate fixes.
  9. You must always try to anticipate how audiences will react to what you are writing. All artists care about what audiences think, not matter what they may say to the contrary. You must then seek out and listen to how people respond, and be aware of how their reaction differs from what you expected, and try to figure out how to get the response you want the next time.
  10. You must not exploit anyone’s desire to enter the business in order to get them to work for free in any way, or work for exploitative rates. You must never ask anyone to work for you for free unless you’re working for free. If you are getting paid up front, they must be paid up front. If you expect money on the back end, then you must offer them a contract ensuring that they will get paid on the back end. The ethics of supply must not be determined by the amount of demand.
What do you think so far?

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Worth putting in stone!