Writing a query with no screenwriting credits
Recently I received a question from a screenwriter who wanted to know how to write a query letter when they didn’t have writing credits. Below is my response, more or less. Also, I recommend checking out Ashley Scott Meyers’s piece: How to write a professional query letter for your screenplay. -Eric
In my piece How to Write a Query Letter I say to put down any relevant information you have concerning screenwriting or writing, such as:
“This is my fourth script…”
“I was a freelance writer for Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, etc…”
But what if you DO NOT have any experience writing? What if this is your first script AND your first attempt to get paid for writing?
First, AVOID writing “this is my first script,” or “I have never written anything but hand scrawled messages in birthday cards…”
Instead, talk about any expertise in the subject of the script. If it’s about a rat who becomes a gourmet chef, you could write, “I’ve been a line cook for over 20 years,” if it’s about a Top Gun pilot who is a little out of control, you might write, “The script is based on my experience as a Navy pilot.”
If you don’t have ANY experience in the subject matter of your script, you might say something brief about your research. “I have read over 200 books on serial killers. Don’t worry, I’m not dangerous.”
Whatever you write about yourself, keep it brief. If you choose to just say, “I’m a plumber who writes screenplays when I’m not fixing your toilet,” that’s fine, just say it and end the letter.
Your STORY should be the crux of the letter. If you have a good screenplay, you could be a stripper with no screenwriting experience and no one would care.