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- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Friday, September 11, 2009

Can You Read My Manuscript?

I generally read a lot of agent blogs, mainly because I find them to be interesting, entertaining, and educational. Eventually, I'd like to link to some of the blogs I read (not just the agent ones), but that would require a slightly different layout of this blog, since I think the sidebar is overcrowded as it is.


Today, I came across this article, "I Will Not Read Your F*ing Screenplay", about taking your screenplay (though it could apply to any other manuscript for that matter) to an industry professional (other writer, publisher, agent, etc.) and having them read your manuscript and commenting on it or just using them as an "in" to the business.

I guess for me, I never really thought about asking a professional to consider any of my manuscripts, for a number of reasons. 1. I'm a shy person. So first I'd have to actually work up the courage to talk to someone. 2. My first drafts are far from perfect. I get embarrassed just having my husband read my first draft. How embarrassed would I be if a professional were to look at something that is, for all intents and purposes, incomplete? 3. I think 1. and 2. covers it quite well. Plus, I think it's just rude.

One of my friend's uncles lives in New York and is involved with the plays there. I don't know exactly what he does, but he hates it when some random person who might have some connection to him (like one of mine and my friend's teachers from high school who never even met the guy) ask him (or try to get someone else, like my friend, to ask him) if he'll look at something they wrote.

Sure, this may sound like a good idea. I mean, a connection into the business is still a connection, right? There's that saying that goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know," that I think some people try taking just a little too literal. Plus, I think some people are so focused on getting "in" themselves, that they don't think about what it's like for the person who's already "in". Someone on the outside might think, "Oh, it's just one manuscript. How much time could it really take?" What that person doesn't think about are all the other people thinking the same exact thing and how that one person still has a job to do. And no, it's not reading some random person's manuscript.

Aside from the three points I mentioned above, I guess I'd like to add, that if I ever made it "in", I wouldn't want random people coming up to me, asking me to read something they wrote, just because they think I'll somehow magically be able to get them "in". If I have to work hard to get "in", then I think other people should have to work just as hard.

I guess, maybe I'm just weird since I actually rejected an opportunity similar to this. While still in college, I finished the rough draft of Butterfly Kiss (kind of the precursor to Butterfly Mask). I was so proud that I actually finished something that after typing it all up, I printed it off, and showed it to one of my creative writing teachers. I absolutely loved this teacher and he taught my favorite class (Screenwriting). He asked if I wanted him to read it for me. And I was so embarrassed that it was just a sloppy first draft that I actually told him no. But he could have read it, he could have commented on it, and I might have had an "in" into the writing industry, but I said no.

I guess the difference is that I didn't go to him with the intention of having him read my manuscript and possibly take advantage of his contacts. I just wanted to show him that I completed something outside of my creative writing classes. I wanted to share that joy of actually completing something with him because I felt that he had a pretty big impact on me as a writer, and I guess it was kind of like saying thank you. Because of him, I was able to complete something.

But now that he's no longer one of my teachers, and even though he may have "industry connections" (he did publish a couple young adult books), I wouldn't go up to him with the same manuscript, or any other manuscript, and say, "Hey, can you read this for me?"

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