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Securing a Literary Agent as a Screenwriter

Updated on July 1, 2010
Screenwriter, "Will you read it now?"
Screenwriter, "Will you read it now?"

in the trunk of your car?

As all serious writers know the literary agent is the guardian to the kingdom.  Literary agents are equally aware of this, if for no other reason, than the millions of writers begging for entrance.  One has to imagine that it is pretty overwhelming as the thousands of writers compete with letters and smiles to be your best friend. 

To further complicate this, Hollywood being what it is – or at least what it promises to be on the silver screen, and on the TV shows covering the red carpet events – a fairytale land at the end of the rainbow with bikinis and pool parties and fancy people that lay about all day with good tans and waiters hopping from continent to continent on private jets… many would-be writers are more interested in the lifestyle than the commitment required to be an artist – a master of the craft.

Now, not only does the literary agent have to navigate the smiles and fake relationships, they have to sift through piles of garbage thrown together by wanna-be rock stars and dilletants with no real interest in how two words can be placed together.  Not being a literary agent myself, I can only guess, but I would assume that literary agents feel nauseous at the thought of meeting another new writer.

It makes sense that literary agents have no interest in the thousands of writing competitions or millions of query letters.  They use the buffer of recommendations to find new writers, and I wouldn’t blame them if it weren’t for the fact that having friends in the right places doesn’t follow a prerequisite of having talent.  This is especially true as the ambitious head out in search of the right friends.

Enough sympathy for literary agents.  What about all of the talented writers that can’t get anyone to read anything?  All avenues of communication have been cut off, other than moving to Los Angeles and networking. 

The only way to truly guarantee that you have a literary agent is to kidnap one.  Even then, however, through kidnapping them you have most likely eliminated any usefulness the agent might offer.  Still, kidnapping an agent does eliminate a lot of the chance and waiting.  Immediate results.  “Read this now asshole, and give me honest feedback.”

Assuming that kidnapping a literary agent is not an option, or at least it is something that you are not willing to consider as an option, and assuming that you are looking to sell a screenplay, you have to create a situation where someone who can sell – or buy - a screenplay will actually read yours.

For years I have heard the same thing.  Move to Los Angeles and network.  Meet a literary agent, or someone who know a literary agent – a producer, actor, office assistant – and get them to read your script.  For years I’ve stubbornly resisted, and I am at the same place, “how do I get someone with the power to make these decisions read a script?”  I ask this question as if the answer is not right in front of me.  I ask, “What is a different answer?”

I am opposed to the idea of networking.  It seems like an insincere thing to do.  Why would a person pursue writing – dedicating themselves to both the craft of writing and to the pursuance of truth - and then hang a “for sale” sign around their neck?

As I get older, the answer to that question becomes clearer and clearer.  The answer is because you need to eat.  You need health insurance.  You need a place to live.  You need clothes, a phone, electric, water… a mode of transportation.  A computer or paper and pen.

At a younger age, I would shake my head at the admission of such needs, but at a younger age, although I was growing, I was not necessarily growing old.  As I was aging, it was arriving at something.  As the joints begin to hurt for no reason, as a healthy vitamin filled diet is something that I have to consider, as I can’t stay awake, as the hours of productivity have shortened, as the prescription for my glasses need to be strengthened again, I realized that I have turned the corner.  I am no longer simply growing, but growing old.  I am no longer aging toward something, but away from something, unaware of the spike when it happened.

The “for sale” sign is necessary, despite what my younger arrogant self might think.

All the advice from professional writers and literary agents alike is consistent.  Learn to write and get to know a literary agent either directly or indirectly, whatever that takes.  Unless you have access to money to produce your own movie, don’t look for the alternate ways to get someone to read something.  If you are not willing to move, make phone calls, leave the house, and do what it takes to get someone to read a script, then now would be a good time to start investing your time in an alternate career – or planning a kidnapping.

Other articles on "how to" as a screenwriter:

-Are Screenplay Competitions Worth the Money?

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    • profile image

      Adolph Mondry MD 

      4 years ago

      Adolph Mondry MD

      753 Virginia Street

      Plymouth, Michigan 48170

      734-459-6267

      ajmondry@yahoo.com

      DearSir: 12-6-13

      I would like you to review “Highly Connected (to a Zombie Too)”, a screenplay answering the question – what would you do if you discovered that you controlled subconsciously, then esoterically, a universe where zombies roamed free? It was once represented by Jack Scagnetti.

      I published two editorials on high level esoteric scams. I wrote a hundred and fourteen page textbook on esoteric medical rip-offs, a two hundred and thirty page poem and fictional account of life from an esoteric point of view, and a five hundred page novel examining esoteric power and control along with its consequences throughout history (especially in the Middle East). I used all of this experience to craft this masterpiece along with our kids’ obsession with zombies.

      Supernatural control in the screenplay is catchy like an infection and reflects the subconscious of the connected person - villain as well as hero. An antidote is discovered, which disconnects control, but until the connection (a previously unknown new technology – a six lead transistor in this case) is discovered and destroyed, the screenplay twists and turns around good and evil through an optional number of computer generated special effects featuring a feeble reactive military intervention; controlled meteorite trajectory guidance and other controlled natural weaponry; and, a chilling example of a connected monster – half zombie and half evil fiend - delivering lethal lightning bursts from its finger tips as it pursues our hero, until comedy and love save the day. By the way the special effects can be realized quite inexpensively and even deleted for a TV show or stage play or added for a competitive lion’s share of a summer time market without detracting from the story. In any event plenty of latitude exists in the story to completely penetrate any desired market. The zombies could disappear as well, but the kids might too. So the zombies stick around until the bitter end or do they? Wait until you hear what does happen to them. It’ll keep the kids in their seats, except for the ones who soiled them or split - too scared to stick around.

      I am a physician and a self- taught mathematician, physicist, and engineer. I own a software company. I am an energy and medical advisor to the White House.

      Yours truly,

      Adolph Mondry MD

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      6 years ago

      Ha Ha... yes Yo Momma. I agree, not helpful. However, that mirrors everything I've read in terms of advice. Lots of suggestions of things to do, with the but line of, "but really, you just need to know someone". So it seems like all the advice is just to keep you running in circles anyway.

    • profile image

      yo momma 

      6 years ago

      pretty funny but not helpful at all

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the Nice post

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      8 years ago

      Hello Rebecca E. Thanks for stopping by! It is a shame that we have to be older to learn the important lessons. Better late than never, as "they" say.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      8 years ago from Canada

      while I don't particularily like networking, like you in my older age I've come to figure out that a bit of networking does help.. in the end.

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      8 years ago

      Hello Megavitamin, thanks for stopping by.

      I know people who "love" networking more than anything. The same people also hate the idea of sitting in a room by themselves to do something like... writing. But, you have to do the things you hate or rely on other people. So - networking it is (maybe?) Thanks!

    • Megavitamin profile image

      Megavitamin 

      8 years ago

      I hate networking too. It's the pits! Nice hub :0)

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for reading Money Glitch! If we could all only learn some way other than the hard way.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I like the line about being opposed to networking; until you get older and realize that one needs to eat. Hehehe, I guess this is a phase that we all have to go through at some time or another. Needless to say, this economy has taught me that networking is important as well. Thumbs up! :)

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      8 years ago

      Thanks Paul. That was kind of the point of the last paragraph.

    • profile image

      paul 

      8 years ago

      sounds like you should move in a new direction.

    • film critic profile imageAUTHOR

      film critic 

      8 years ago

      Old? What? Okay... maybe a little.

    • dead secrets profile image

      dead secrets 

      8 years ago

      Pretty funny. Sucks getting old, huh? Good luck with the kidnapping.

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