"SAVING MR. BANKS" P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) holds out a script in Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks". Ph: François Duhamel ©Disney Enterprises, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Want to  make absolutely sure you don’t sell that first script? Here’s a tip:

Make sure it’s like all the others.

I see loads of well-written scripts (and a fair load of badly written scripts too) and I’ve seen just about every fault that writers have ever invented. But there’s one flaw that stands out as being the real killer:

It’s just not different.

There’s nothing special. Nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Hang on, I hear you say. There are a thousand movies and TV dramas made every year that are total mindless clones of movies and dramas that went before. Someone must have commissioned them.

Yes. But here’s the rub: they’ve already got thousands of mindless writers (and good ones) they can call on to write those. What’s more those writers can be relied on to deliver precisely the right level of 9th rate writing. (Nothing too classy that might demand expensive actors, add to the budget, etc).

Why should they hire you?

What they want from you – a fresh, exciting new talent – is something different. Something they can’t get elsewhere. Something that’s pure you.

That Barton Fink feeling!

So, go back over that script and ask yourself how you can give it that special something – that unique selling point – that one thing nobody else has done. Is it twist in the genre? A new way of looking at something familiar? A variation on an old theme? Where is your individual voice? Give it that Barton Fink feeling.

Then, when they’ve bought you, then they’ll try to make you the same as everyone else.

But that’s another story.

Want to know more?

If you want more sure-fire ways not to sell your script… or, better still, ways to sell it, you need to know what buyers want, how to get to them, how to get them excited, how to use social media to promote your work, how to pitch, what to ask for when you meet, whether you need a lawyer or an agent, check out my book Jaws in Space: Powerful Pitching for Film & TV.