Bailing on an idea

questionmarkI recently got representation, and my agents fell in love with my latest spec idea. Cut to nearly six weeks later and I still haven’t been able to hash it out completely. How do you know when to keep going at an idea in an attempt to crack it and or when to call it a day and realize the idea is not as good as you first thought it was?

What do I tell my agents if I can’t crack it?

– Stef

Your agents probably got excited by the idea because they think they can sell it — and you, as the writer.

Six weeks is a long time. I say this not to panic you, but to make sure you understand that employable screenwriters need to be able to produce on demand. You promised them something and didn’t deliver — that makes them nervous. How can they convince producers to hire you when you can’t hand them the script you yourself pitched?

Yes, sometimes seemingly-good ideas collapse upon further scrutiny, and it’s ultimately better to bail. If you truly can’t make your idea work, you need to move quickly on writing something else that is similarly marketable, even if it’s not the same genre. And you need to do it now.

When your agents ask, “What are you working on?” you should be able to answer immediately and passionately. So if it’s not the project you pitched them, make sure it’s something they’re going to be excited to read.

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