Reading and editing many feature film screenplays, pilots for television, and novels with great potential, it is interesting to find how few writers actually know what they are writing about and are strangers to their stories.
It is equally shocking to find that most writers when confronted by the prospect of writing a successful Top Sheet, avoid it like the plague because they have to take an honest look at how well they know what they thought they knew.
How can you expect anyone to invest in your story emotionally or financially if you, yourself, are a stranger to what you spent years writing?
The Top Sheet is essential in getting your story out into the world, turning words into action.
Take an honest look at how well you know your story
Sure, you have written a screenplay, pilot, or novel. But what then?
Is it destined to become an entry at endless competitions, where most writers seek approval of how brilliant they are; or receive a nod of approval from friends and family members, to boast what a great writer you are?
Sadly, most screenplays (or novels), remain imprisoned on paper for eternity until it reaches their audience through the film it is meant to be (or television); potential bestsellers never reach bookshelves, and budding plays are never performed on stage in front of a live audience.
Without an audience or readers, the passion and desire to write a story are futile.
The reason for this is simple: most writers don’t know their story, or they think they do until potential producers, publishers, and investors reject it.
Or readers at agencies deliver a devastating blow with a reader’s report that indicates how little the writers know about what or who they are writing about.
This rejection is not because the story is poorly written, but simply because the writer has no idea what is needed to take a story from page to screen, a bestseller, or the stage.
The Top Sheet rules king when it comes to finding out whether or not you know your story
The Top Sheet is a realistic wake-up call and a true test of how well you know your story and characters, and to ensure that it embraces all the elements needed to secure a deal.
- Is the medium you are writing for the ideal one for the story you are writing?
- Are you clear about your genre?
- Is it clear what the thematic purpose of your story is?
- Do you have a premise that is unique and captivating?
- Does your concept provoke the imagination?
- Are you as a writer truly connected to your story? Will you be the right person to join the production team as a writer and possibly advisor?
- Can you summarise what your story is about without telling the whole story?
- Do you know who the people in your story are?
- Will foreign producers and investors be interested in your story?
- Is this a story that filmmakers, publishers, and theatre makers will be willing to invest years of their lives in?
- Can producers, publishers, and those who want to read the screenplay get hold of you?