Thursday, February 16, 2006

Screenwriting Allodoxaphobia

Don't look it up. Allodoxaphobia is the fear of opinions, as opposed to doxophobia, the fear of expressing one. My reluctance to post a piece of work on Zoetrope or Triggerstreet or even my favorite writer's workshop, The Writer's Building, is not allodoxaphobia. Nor am I a cleptophobic who is afraid of my work being stolen, as you may have been misled to believe by I Saw What You Stole Last Summer. For me, the benefits from posting my work in such a public forum do not outweigh the time, effort, risks, and frustration. Plain and simple.

Time and Effort - usually, you are required a certain number of points from reviewing others' work in order to have yours reviewed. Maybe you have to review four scripts. By the time you spend two hours reading and another couple of hours writing notes, you've given up about sixteen hours of valuable research and writing time. Many forums offer the author the opportunity to reject your notes and all your effort was for naught.

Risks - I really don't think anyone who steals dialogue, scenes, loglines, story ideas, or whole stories would get very far. If they had the work ethic and determination to get very far, they wouldn't have to steal. But the risk is there. The greater risk is that you, once you realize any degree of success with your work, may be accused of stealing something from this forum because somebody posted a similar idea to the one you are already working on.

Frustration - The reviews that you receive on your own work may offer some helpful ideas and advice, but to get those little grains of wisdom, you usually have to read a lot of useless reviews from budding writers who aren't qualified to give story notes, but must in order to get the points they need to post their own work for review. And dare I even mention that some of these groups have spores of hostile mentality resulting in very public (online) jealousy, name calling, and temper tantrums?

Nothing in this post is meant to proport that these groups are not right for anyone. Some of them are simply not right for me. I highly recommend The Writer's Building, even though I don't post my completed work. I've participated in workshops and even developed a draft of a feature length screenplay, in my private office, with three other writers. In addition, several professionals participate now and then in this forum and post notes in a workshop environment. I think what prevents some of the riff raff from participating is the $25.00 annual fee to join. By riff raff, I mean guys like the one I mentioned in I Saw What You Stole Last Summer, who was only looking to publicize his band. Most of the amateurs in The Writer's Building appear to be very serious about becoming professional writers.

So, although I am most certainly coulrophobic, I am not allodoxaphobic. I welcome opinions, even ones in direct opposition to my own, unless of course, that opinion is expressed from behind clown paint.

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