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"In Hollywood, everyone thinks they have to be commercial," says producer Maggie Soboil (Myron's Movie). "That often makes for formulaic writing. I don't want formula. I want a compelling story."
If you hope to make a living as a screenwriter, it's important to be savvy about the market and to understand what kinds of concepts sell. But it's equally important not to become obsessed by the market, because the market is difficult to predict. Don't write something just because you think it will sell. Focus instead on coming up with a fantastic concept that you love, and then telling the best, most heart-felt story you can. Your job is to deliver on the potential of the concept you chose without being formulaic or derivative.
Producers are in the story-telling business. They buy and sell great emotional experiences. For that, they need…compelling stories! What they don't need are pale imitations of successful movies or gimmicks—car chases, explosions, cheap sex—that have been thrown in to make the story more "commercial." That's writing by formula, and it isn't interesting to anyone. Instead, keep digging until you find solutions that are unique and fresh.
"When I'm considering a story, I'm looking to get excited," says director Randa Haines. If you're passionate about your concept and are willing to keep searching for ways to tell your story in the most exciting way possible, your passion for your material will be hard to resist.