This week I’m going to have a little fun. I have categorized the ten types of screenwriters I’ve met in Los Angeles. I’ve even been a few of them. Which one are you? (Don’t get insulted… if you’re going to survive in this business, you need a thick skin and a sense of humor!)
1. The Talented Temp – A rare form of screenwriter, skilled and talented who has yet to sell anything and typically supports him or herself by temping. Often the reason they have yet to sell a script is they insist on writing non-commercial stories or they have no interest in or knowledge of the business side of screenwriting. They are unaware of this failing.
2. The Un-Talented Temp – A common form of screenwriter, unskilled and untalented who has yet to sell anything and typically supports him or herself by temping. Sadly, they believe they are Talented Temps.
3. The Someday Screenwriter – Someone who plans to be a writer someday, when they have the time. Since they will never have the time, they will remain writers in their own mind. Someday Screenwriters often work in development, convinced they could do better than the writers whose scripts they read… if they only had the time.
4. The One-Idea Wonder – This screenwriter has been working on their first screenplay for over a decade. It is typically an epic passion project or coming-of-age story. They will be working on it for the rest of their lives. It will never become a movie because they will never finish.
5. The Imposter – This is an aspiring actor or director writing a screenplay for themselves to star in or direct, respectively. They mistakenly believe writing a screenplay is easier than acting or directing. Typically they write an incoherent first draft filled with spelling, grammar and format errors and immediately send it around to producers and executives. They are amazed when it doesn’t sell.
6. The Studio Hack – A regularly employed screenwriter with excellent craft skills who will execute any development note to the letter. They are typically the middle writer in a long chain of re-writers. They often wonder why they never get to work on better projects.
7. The Indie Writer-Director – an award-winning hyphenate writer and director of art house films. They actually make their living re-writing studio scripts under a pseudonym.
8. Charlie Kaufman – a brilliant, idiosyncratic artist who can break all the rules and still get his work produced. The industry allows one of these to exist per generation. If you’re name’s not Charlie Kaufman, it’s not you.
9. The A-Lister – The writer of one monster big-budget hit movie. They will then be continuously employed no matter how many bombs they write as long as they always book their next project before their current project is released.
10. The Has-Been – A once regularly employed screenwriter who has not had a job in over a decade. Typically working on a noncommercial, mid-budget drama spec about the Holocaust, the McCarthy era blacklist, or marital infidelity. Spends their non-writing time teaching screenwriting and bitching about ageism.
Doug Eboch wrote the original script for Sweet Home Alabama and is the co-author of The Hollywood Pitching Bible. He also teaches screenwriting. Yeah.
Check out the Kickstarter campaign for the short film Microbe.