Been thinking about rejection recently because I’ve had a few comments about my advice on offering stuff to Radio 4. I submit material twice a year and the vast majority is rejected. And it really hurts. I’d hoped to have developed a thick skin by now, but so far it’s still custard thin. I doubt myself all the time. And the only way to deal with it is keep going. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Write for different mediums if you can.
Occasionally I read scripts sent in for radio. A few are very good, some are spectacularly bad, and most are just a bit dull. The same mistakes are made over and over again. Here they are:
1. People don’t speak in full paragraphs. The next time you and your family are sitting round a table, pay attention to the conversation. I’ll bet nobody gets to the end of more than two sentences without being interrupted. (Or maybe that’s just my family). People don’t always say what they mean either.
2. If your script is meant for television and they don’t want it, you can’t just turn it into a radio script. It Shows. I’m thinking of the guy who sent me a love scene, where he had written: We see Sarah and Andrew in bed. He crossed out ‘see’ and wrote ‘hear’ over it. Which reminded me of the Monty Python Sketch: “This isn’t a dog licence – it’s a cat licence with the word ‘dog’ crossed out and ‘cat’ written in pencil! (The same writer kept resubmitting his bad script with a title change. I’m not that unobservant!)
3. There has to be DRAMA. Something has to happen. At the end of the play, the leading character should not be in the same emotional place they were at the beginning.
Rejection always stinks. I remember once sending in a sitcom idea to a telly company. Back it came, in such pristine condition, that I suspected about three seconds had elapsed between my sitcom being taken out of the envelope and shoved back into the SAE, I’d thoughtfully supplied. There was also a typed note: Dear Applicant. Thank you for your quiz show idea. Now fuck off and die. (Or words to that effect). However, this was a few years ago. Then I would wonder what had I done wrong? Now, I still feel miserable but there’s a tiny part of me sticking up two fingers and shouting: “Up yours tossers. It’s your loss!” Progress of sorts. Well it is to me.