horror? Aisle 4…”A: Yes.
By “writing to market”, the questioner is asking whether or not spec writers should take advantage of the hot buying trends in the screenplay market. Those trends certainly exist. The alternative is to put your own instincts and passion first, and if that means you’re selling straight-leg jeans when everyone wants bell-bottoms, well…that’s life.
The truth is that doing both ain’t such a bad idea, particularly if you’re still trying to solidify your place in town as a professional.
When I started out writing comedy screenplays, the success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective had set a clear trend. Everyone wanted what they called “character driven comedies”.
I had a choice. Ignore the trend and write the kinds of comedies I tend to prefer, or embrace the trend, get hired, and then deal with the first-class problem of pigeonholing later.
I surfed the trend.
Still, nothing was stopping me from continuing to learn my craft and explore the kind of writing I wanted to do. Happily, I was able to get employment writing movies that were more my style (although, ominously, those haven’t quite gotten made yet).
Writing is still one of the lowest overhead businesses on the planet. Pretty much every time you’re faced with a decision of writing one kind or screenplay or another, the best answer is to write them both. If you can’t afford to write both, then pick the one that will make you happiest.
After all, life is short. Besides, the trends just changed while you were reading this.
Coming up next, a discussion of “orphan works” and a review of fellow blogger Alex Epstein’s book Crafty Screenwriting.