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Blog: A Matter Of Taste

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I've had quite a nice run of SUCCESS just lately with The Writing, at least as far as competitions go, with my script Six Billion To One getting into the final stages of a couple of screenwriting contests. I'm really JOLLY pleased because I've spent AGES working on it and, a little while ago, was starting to think all that time had been wasted.

When the first version (called 'Alpha Male' at that point) was finished I sent it off to all sorts of places and it got NOWHERE. I did however get some feedback, which mostly said how confusing it all was. The basic idea is that everybody in the world gets turned into an identical physical duplicate of one man - this is the HIGH CONCEPT - and the story's about the scientist who (probably) caused the disaster going off to find the last woman left on earth and then them trying to work out how to put things right, while fighting through a world of anti-individualistic cults and corporate bandits.

COR it sounds quite exciting when you put it like that doesn't it? It's also, I think, quite funny - it's like a cross between Last Of The Summer Wine and DIE HARD, kind of. Sort of. ANYWAY several of the people giving feedback said sensible things (although some said idiotic things, including a couple who said that the HIGH CONCEPT was the best thing about it and could be improved by getting rid of it completely) so I thought it mightn't hurt to read through it, do some changes, and try again.

This I duly did and ended up with a MUCH better version with a MUCH better title 'Six Billion To One' suggested by The Lines In My Script. I sent THAT off to a load more places and, again got either NIL RESPONSE or feedback saying it was all right or just sort of OK - this especially came from The Blacklist, a rating/reading site which gave me a solid 6/10 score every time I sent redrafts to them.

After a while I got the message and decided I'd spent ENOUGH time/money on this particular script so decided to FILE it. I did still have a few outstanding competitions I'd entered it for, but didn't expect anything to come of them.

And then something DID come - the ORIGINAL script, still titled 'Alpha Male' got into the quarter finals of the Science Fiction section of The Big Break Contest. I was AMAZED. As I say, this was the original version that had gone NOWHERE before and here it was getting into the first stages of a proper prestigious competition. I didn't expect it to get any further, but then it DID - into the semi finals, then the Top 10, Top 5 and now Top THREE for my category. It is frankly NUTS - I have been looking at the page approximately twice an hour all MONTH, clicking refresh fully expecting to drop out and STUNNED when I've made it to the next stage.

The next bit is the final WINNER of the category and I'm pretty sure it won't get THAT far, but you never know do you? WOOD is being touched, LADDERS are being avoided, and FATE is, as much as possible, being left untempted.

The script has also, as of today, got into the semi-finals of The Scriptwriters Network High Concept Screenplay Competition. I'm EXTREMELY chuffed about this because a) it's the most recent draft and so my favourite and also b) it's a competition for High Concepts, and I think this concept is pretty high!

Amongst all this delight and showing off, of course, there's the TONNE of other competitions I've sent it off to and got nowhere with and about thirty agents/production companies I've tried to get to read it who haven't. I guess if you enter ENOUGH of these things then someone somewhere is going to like it but CRIKEY it really does show how much this is all A Matter Of TASTE. When I was doing my course guest speakers were forever saying "Don't be put off by bad feedback, all you need is one person to like it, it's all A Matter Of Taste." Similarly I'm forever seeing the same advice on writing websites, usually quoting some book or screenplay (most often Harry Potter) which got rejected a million times by fifteen generations of publisher/agent/studio before somebody quite liked it and then every single person on earth read/watched it TWICE each.

I guess I used to think that that sort of thing was the exception and that Good Stuff would be found eventually - goodness knows WHY I thought something so daft, I've spent 20 years in BANDS seeing AMAZING groups go completely unlauded (though sometimes that was because they'd signed to a daft record label run by three drunk idiots in a pub in Derby - sorry Johnny Domino, Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken ET AL) so I don't know why I thought it would be any different in the world of The Writing.

What I'm trying to say through all of this is, I think, THREEFOLD. Firstly, and most importantly, I'm saying "LOOK! Things what I wrote have been liked by people!" Secondly I'm reminding myself not to get too cocky about it because about twenty TIMES as many things I've written have been liked by NOBODY, and thirdly I guess I'm agreeing with all those mad-eyed loons trying to warn us off choosing their crazy career: it really is all just A Matter Of Taste.

posted 15/12/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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