GREAT SCREENWRITING (Part 1: FAILURE): 25 Reasons Writers Fail (I love 17 & 29…29?)


“Dov, can you read my script?” “Dov, I’ve gotten great feedback…now what?”


Sometimes, I even get, “Dov my script has gotten some really good mixed reviews”… “Huh? Good mixed reviews? That’s an oxymoron. What do I do?”

Permit me to Cut-to-the-chase.


ONE: It’s either “it’s Great & Wonderful” (a page turner) and anyone that reads it “WANTS TO BUY IT” or there’s the other type.

TWO: It’s a “Piece of Sh*t” or “IT SUCKS”, or “You wasted paper. You killed a tree”.


Now, of course, no one is going to say anything like # TWO so they are going to be polite. But you must realize that there is no middle-ground; there is no such thing as “I’ve gotten good feedback” or “I got mixed reviews” that is what people, in the industry, tell you politely when you’ve WRITTEN A PIECE-OF-SH*T (You’ve wasted 100 pages, you’ve killed a tree). Why?

Here’s why! If the person that just read your script, is actually in the industry, and reads it and loves it, he/she will instantly buy it (actually option it). If he/she, however, doesn’t love it he/she won’t buy it (option it).

But he/she will not hurt your feelings by telling you “IT SUCKS” and of course say something very polite like (A) I like the concept, (B) Act II is a little weak and the (C) Main characters needed a little more fleshing out.

There is reason and you must learn the “Hollywood NO” (keep reading).


Again, there are only 2 types of scripts.


One is GREAT & WONDERFUL and anyone who reads it wants to either (A) Buy it, (B) Finance it or (C) Option it.

Or IT SUCKS….there is no middle ground.

Please do not be naïve and buy into the phrase that “so & so read my script and really likes it”.

Here’s bottom-line: “If so & so read your script and really liked it he/she would either buy it, finance it or option it”.


Always remember that no one ever, in the industry, will ever tell you “No”.


Why? Because if they tell you “No” as in “No, the script is not good”, or “No, I don’t like your idea”, or “No, I don’t want to read your script”, or “No…..” you are always going to remember that person who said “NO” to you for the rest of your life.

Now, what if you persevere, spend more years hustling and learn by the school of hard knocks and eventually get an idea or a project made/done and are now successful. Well I bet you, now with your success, and becoming an integral part of Hollywood’s new generation you are always going to remember that asshole who said “NO” to you 5 years ago.

Thus, get ready for the simple fact that no one in Hollywood ever says “NO” and if they read your script, for whatever reason, and don’t like it, for whatever reason, they are still going to positive with you and say things like….

“I really like your script”

“I think your idea is truly great”

“Congratulations. The concept is great but the lead actors need a little fleshing out”

and what you never want to hear is “Act II is a little weak”. Why? because that is Hollywood’s nice way of saying “you got no f*ckin’ story”




Read them with a grain-of-sand, a smile and a dash-of-cynicism.

  1. Printer does not work… Bought a frickin’ HP
  2. Don’t know how to ripoff Shakespeare.
  3. Writing partner has bad body odor.
  4. Think Loglines are for lumberjacks.
  5. Ran out of Red Vines.
  6. Can’t get past “TITLE”.
  7. Starts with PHASED-IN not FADE-IN.
  8. Agent is having affair with your wife…and is cross-dressing.
  9. Still no frickin’ Red Vines.
  10. Think High Concept is a Marijuana Smuggling story.
  11. Can’t stop looking at PornTube, YouPorn & RedTube.
  12. Can’t figure out to use the word “Dickhead” or “Douchebag”.
  13. Still worried that McKee called you “stupid”.
  14. Think a Treatment is an Asian “Happy Ending” Massage.
  15. Start every dialogue sentence with “Yo John”.
  16. Types great exposition, but it sells as a Short story.
  17. F*ck, my assistant got Black Vines.
  18. Spelled your “Query” letter as “QUEER” letter.
  19. Think “Pitchin’” is for Baseball stories.
  20. Still haven’t typed “TITLE”.
  21. Sure that oxymoron is a dumb cow.
  22. Just wrote “Oscar Acceptance Speech”.
  23. Keep re-reading your Field/Truby/Seger class notes.
  24. All characters names begin with same first letter.
  25. Worse: All Characters names rhyme.
  26. Can’t decide what Script Contest to enter.
  27. Always thinking “What would Steven King write”.
  28. Your minor characters have no character.
  29. Your plot is not where you’re buried.
  30. Costco is out of Red Vines & Ralph’s don’t carry ‘em.
  31. No one cares about your Mother’s trek from Zagreb.
  32. Can’t figure out if girl gets guy, or loses guy or is guy.
  33. Hero is boring and quest is boring. Twists are twistless.
  34. You are boring. Your writing is boring. Go to Med School.

Damn, this Hot Tip was about “25” things first-timers do that guarantees failure and I’ve been writing for 16 minutes and have just gotten to “34” things.

That’s 2 a minute… Or should I go for an hour, call it a book, make a deal with Random House and book myself on Ellen or Oprah… any chance to get on Charlie Rose?

“Sh*t, this Hot Tip is over”.


Cause I’m out of frickin’ Red Vines.

Happy Filmmaking,,

Dov Simens


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One comment on “GREAT SCREENWRITING (Part 1: FAILURE): 25 Reasons Writers Fail (I love 17 & 29…29?)”

  1. Well, considering that many great scripts eventually are turned into wonderful movies, yet were rejected many times by producers. My opinion is that “The sucks” comment is purely subjective. A lot of it depends on the type of script the said “Males” are looking for. That is the reason independents are so successful these days.
    Marguerite Fair

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