A Sloppy Writer Versus A Perfectionist by Daniel Calvisi

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Film Courage: Dan what about the writer who is too loose, too sloppy, doesn’t check everything out “Oh everything is going to be fine.” Because they are almost like two of the same?

Daniel Calvisi, movie studio reader, screenwriter and private screenplay consultant: …Two sides of the same coin? Well, that’s where a consultant like me can really help you? [Gives example of a critique] Okay this is not a professional level quality. I was confused in places. I really felt like scenes went on too long. I felt like these voices weren’t authentic in dialogue. So I’m the kind of person, a writing coach, a story consultant who can really help someone like that and guide them to improve their craft.

Film Courage: So both of those traits – perfectionist versus loose non-detail oriented, where does that stem from?

Dan: Where you fall on the spectrum?

Film Courage: No…I’m wondering how does someone become a perfectionist? How does someone become sort of loose kinda of…

Dan: Kind of a lazy writer?

Film Courage: I’m not sure if it’s so much lazy but they don’t seem to care as much about details because they think they don’t matter. Maybe they are willing to spend time on stuff that does matter so they are not lazy in that respect. But in terms of tying up loose ends “Ah…they’ll understand.” There are just some people that flow with some things in some ways and are more controlled in other ways. Where does that come from?

Dan: Well I think it comes from your personality. I think it comes from your own personal experience, how you approach creative work. But it is a craft and it’s going to take a long time to learn that craft and really perfect it and to write your best work, to find your voice and write the best thing that you were born to write and it’s going to take time and if you are really loose and what you might call lazy just you’re not detail-oriented, you’re not specific, you just don’t care if the scene is confusing because it makes sense to you. Well that’s going to be a problem because the reader cares. Because the reader wants it to makes sense and wants it to be tight and wants it to have a really great arc and surprise and subvert their expectations and wants it to just be great.

So if you are a really loose writer then maybe screenwriting is not quite the discipline for you.

Film Courage: Sure. Then the flip side of one that can’t let it go because there are just too many variables that they’ve got to make sure are right but then the life is squeezed out because it’s so tight.

Dan: It can become dryer the more you pick at it and pick at it. I can’t say specifically which draft does that happen. Okay, between draft 12 and 15 it’s going to get way too dry and you’re going to lose that original essence. But that is that instance in which someone picks at something and picks at something, rewrites it so many times, takes every single note they get from every friend and every consultant and it ends up just kind of bleeding it dry and you lose the essence of the original idea, the original concept what made you passionate about that.

That’s a pitfall too to look out for.


Question for The Viewers: Do you obsess over story details in your screenplay?


STORY MAPS: How To Write A GREAT Screenplay


Watch the video interview on Youtube here


STORY MAPS: TV Drama: The Structure of the One-Hour Television

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Watch it on Amazon here!

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