Friday, March 28, 2008
Impatience is a virus, a plague among writers. It crawls into writers'
brains and screams: Hurry Up! If you don't send the script off NOW, they
won't want it. They’ll forget it’s coming. They won’t remember me.
So what if it needs another pass. So what if I haven’t gone deep with
the characters and the story has a couple of holes - the sheer
brilliance of it will override those minor discrepancies.
Or there’s this one: It's been two weeks and I haven’t heard from them.
Hell, call them up, everyday. Bug them. You're a star; they just don't
know it yet. Bugging them will make them pay attention. Don't hesitate!
Pick up the phone, dammit! Crank up the e-mail. Make yourself known!
What are impatient people called? I mean, besides that. Yes! The big
three: Arrogant, Insensitive and Overbearing. Impatience is a huge
career stopper. What causes it: usually, stress. How to stop it: walk
away, or count to ten, or lower your voice.
Impatience has been my plague. I have hounded agents. One of them
actually bought me a plane ticket to Mexico City just to get me out of
town while he negotiated my deal. Funny story? Not from the agent’s POV.
I was a major pain in the ass, to him and to me, and to the process. I
chalked up one more notch in my reputation as being “difficult.” I left
the top agency in town because the agents were not getting it done fast
enough. On /my/ time.
Of course when I think back they were moving at ram speed, but I was at
double ram. I expected their work on my behalf to catch up to my
expectations. This particular agent was probably glad to see me go.
I have also committed impatience’s greatest crime:
Welcome to a horror story: I have a friend, an MD who teaches at
Harvard. He had been working on a novel for three years, for at least
three hours every day. One day he calls me up and asks me to read the
manuscript quickly, again. Why?
His brother is a very good friend of Random House’s Sonny Mehta, one of the publishing industry’s handful of most powerful people. Sonny Mehta has promised to read my friend’s book, as a personal favor to his brother.
I say I will read it over the weekend and give notes. My MD friend
brings me the book Thursday. I go to work. By Sunday I have read it and
call my friend. I tell him it’s excellent, which it is, but that he
has places that need to be fixed.
They will take some time but they will make the book what it should and can be - an excellent literary effort to which anyone, I felt, would give substantial consideration. And he has Sonny Mehta who will, if he likes it, get it published.
To make these changes, I felt, would take, at the
clip my friend works, perhaps two months. There is a long pause on the other end of the line. Finally, I hear, “Ah, Chris, when I brought you the book on Thursday I had another copy, which I took to the Federal Express and sent off to Sonny Mehta.”
Now there was a pause on my end, during which I tried to calm mysell. I say, “It’s not bad enough that I spent three days working on this for nothing, but you might have killed your big goose.”
Sonny Mehta read the book over the weekend and in a short conciliatory
note stated that the book was indeed promising but not far enough along
to justify him passing it along to one of his hard working editors.
Would Sonny Mehta have published it after my friend spent two more
months on it? That’s not the point. My friend will never know,
because in this writing business, as they say, you only really get one
shot at the top. For a time my friend was paralyzed by the rejection.
Then he abandoned the work totally because it reminded him of his own
We’ve all heard the reasons behind why people are impatient.
Self-righteousness. Fear of being taken advantage of. Hysterical
childhoods brought forward. Extremely low esteem. Egoism leading to
unwarranted self-worth. Unworthiness leading to self-sabotage. All true.
So what? If you’ve got it, you need to lose it.
I have tried to learn to wait. I have occupied myself with other things
so that I don’t check my messages and e-mail every two minutes. It’s not
easy. I have hyperventilated over what I imagine others are doing with
my script, when it fact they have fifty other things to do before they
get to it, including taking out the garbage.
I have driven myself crazy imagining every bad scenario imaginable and
linking them all to the fate of my screenplay.
I have been constantly shocked when someone tells me she is sorry she
didn’t call me back yesterday but _she was out sick_. She might have
added; and I’m _really_ sorry that it had nothing to do with your
script. Impatience as paranoia.
I have been convinced that the agent or producer is literally checking
the mail room at ten minute intervals looking for my script, and getting
pissed off at me, thus ruining my career forever, for my not having
delivered it as promised.
If I send it, driven by some fear or other, it usually means that I have
sent work with undernourished characters and flimsily plot lines running
through derivative stories. And I wonder why it hasn’t been picked up?
It’s all about impatience.
What’s the hurry? Why can’t you stand delay? What are you going to do
for yourself? Use patience in all things. Why?
Because *impatience kills*!
Chris Keane has a new screenwriting book coming in April, 2008: Romancing the A-List: Writing the Script the Big Stars Want to Make. He has also written The Hunter (Paramount), Dangerous Company (CBS)
The Huntress (USA Network series) plus screenwriting books: How to
Write A Selling Screenplay & Hot Property. He is also a script consultant.
Contact Chris at Keanewords.com or email him at Keanewords@aol.com
He teaches and lectures at Harvard, Emerson College, NYU, Smithsonian Institution.
1137 Mass Ave. Cambridge, MA 02138
10525 Selkirk Lane, Los Angeles, CA 90077
Lectured on the businesses of film and publishing and promotional aspects of each (with self-help, How To Communicate, How to Build and to Avoid Storytelling Techniques in the Workplace - at The Smithsonian Institution, Harvard, Emerson College Graduate School. National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), National Press Club, Ministre de Culture, Paris; Rhode Island School of Design; Brown University; NYU Tisch School., Lions Clubs, Maui Writers Conference/ 10 years) and at The Los Angeles Expo (Star-Speaker), and various libraries, writers conferences, universities and colleges throughout the US, Europe, and SA
Memberships: Writers Guild of America, PEN, Authors Guild
Publications & Film Credits:
Film and TV: The Hunter (Paramount feature)
Dangerous Company (WB/CBS)
The Huntress (USA hour long series)
Books on Screenwriting:
How to Write A Selling Screenplay (Random House)
Hot Property (Penguin)
Romancing the A-List (Michael Weise Productions) (Apr. 2008)
Books: Lynda (Harcourt Brace)
The Maximus Zone (Harcourt Brace)
The Tour (Free Press)
The Heir (William Morrow)
The Hunter (Bantam)
The Huntress (William Morrow)
Christmas Babies (Pocket)
Current Projects: Lost Light, feature for producer Peter Janney.
Divine Justice TV series pilot.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Author/screenwriter Christopher Keane's new book, Romancing the A-List, is as sure fire strategy to get your script made into a movie. The book aims the screenwriter's talent at the most powerful source for getting a movie made: the A-List actor.
Romancing the A-List is set for an April 1 release and is available for pre-order on www.amazon.com.
Himmelstein subscribes to the A-List
Pre-order Romancing The A-List
"Here's the difference between Romancing the A-List and every other screenwriting book clogging the shelf: Chris Keane has not only been through the movie and TV wars he's still engaged in them. His insights aren't dated or theoretical -- they're as real as the studio notes he got last week. Even more impressive, he doesn't just linger on his successes. He's confident enough to analyze his failures and those hard-earned lessons are some of the most instructive in the book."
David Himmelstein, screenwriter, Power, Talent For The Game, Village of the Damned