What struck me was how honest and frank the two men were and also how many of the points they made – including those below – have been echoed many times before by successful screenwriters. Ignore them at your peril!
1. You’ll need to write about ten scripts to get one made – The first agent Wade and Purvis had said to them that they likely have to write ten scripts before one got made. Being young writers, they immediately thought “Well that doesn’t apply to us” but she was on reflection right. Writers are not born, they are self taught for years before they get to the point of writing scripts worth producing.
2. Even when you’ve “made it” and are earning money from screenwriting it doesn’t mean the films you write will be made – After the success of “Let him have it” in the early 1990s, Wade and Purvis wrote about five scripts – all paid assignments – including the adaptation of the Iain Banks novel The Wasp Factory but none of them got made. Again, it shows what a miracle the making of feature film actually is. All the stars have to align, if they don’t even successful writers find their scripts unproduced.
3. Just write your script – Both writers agreed that the best thing to do, once you have spent the time on the structure and scene breakdown is just to get on and write the damn script. But with caveats…
4. Accept that your first draft is your first draft won't be right, that allows you to get on with the business of rewriting – which is where the real work and the real slog is.
5. Sometimes the producers are going to need to bring in another writer to finish the script – No matter how big you are, you just get too close to the material. As such, you need to deal with the fact that other writers are brought in to tidy up dialogue, description and plot. This is a collaborative industry and you are a small cog in a big wheel. If you want to keep working be professional about the fact you will be fired.
So there you have it. Even the writers for the biggest franchise in movie history have to keep writing, and rewriting, and rewriting.