Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 79

ASK MCKEE I would never try to sell the treatment. Instead, just tell the story as vividly and succinctly as you possibly can, because there’s nothing you can say about a story that’s going to make them want to buy it. You can’t make promises. You can’t say, “This is a story; it’s going to be wonderful because it’s got this and it’s got that.” You can’t sell that to people because they’ve heard it all. But what sells it is the story. Why did one producer or another buy something? Was it a short treatment? Well, who gives a damn? It doesn’t matter. Whatever happened in another case is irrelevant to us. We can’t pray for miracles. We just tell the story in a clear way. In this day and age, I would never give a treatment to anybody for sale. If you want to write the screenplay then write a screenplay. If you’re an unknown writer and you sell a story from a treatment, they’re going to get somebody else to write it. It’s not going to be you, because you’ve never had a credit. whatever. Let them do that because, first of all, treatments are not only very difficult to write, but it’s difficult to capture the story with one. Second, you want to write the screenplay, so you have to prove to them that you can write. If you give somebody a treatment and they like your story, and then if they raise $30 million to make the film, they’re going to hire a $1 million writer to write it. If you’re going to write a thriller, it’s a good idea to write a novel. Get it published. Hopefully it becomes a great success as a novel, and then get film producers to option the novel. As a condition of optioning the novel, you say, “And I must write the screenplay, at least the first draft.” At that point, when they want your novel, then you have the power to say what you want. So, if you write a treatment that’s good enough to capture somebody’s interest, they’re going to hire another writer. It won’t be the unknown commodity. But, if you say, “I’ve got this screenplay.” They will give it to a reader, who will read it and reduce it down to two paragraphs, two pages, or Story Magazine // Issue 005