Tripp Stryker says that screenwriting is war

The Bitter Script Reader has taken an abrupt vacation. In his place is the Phil Collins to his Peter Gabriel: Tripp Stryker.

This is a cutthroat business that I work in and it takes a certain sort of disposition to survive. Again and again I see those new to the business making the same mistakes over again, but no mistake is more fatal than aiding the competition.

The success of any other screenwriter or any other aspiring screenwriter diminishes you. Their success means your failure. This is something you cannot afford. Thus, when a fellow writer cheerfully reports that they've just been signed, or that they've gotten a prominent producer to option their film, the last thing you should do is be happy for them.

There are only so many queries that can be answered. If an agent says "yes" and agrees to look at a competitor's script, that means there's one less slot that could be filled by yours. Every other writer trying to break in from the outside is your enemy. You do not share strategies with the enemy, you do not cheer him on, and you certainly don't share intel with them like private email addresses and lists of agents and managers receptive to queries. Do the Dallas Cowboys share their playbook with the opposing team before each NFL Sunday?

This is war. You should be doing everything you can to undermine the competition. Make them doubt themselves. Every chance you get, read another newbie's script and tell them it sucks. Odds are it does. Maybe it's boring, too long, too short, or not marketable. Find the flaws in that script and pound them relentlessly. Make that writer so scared to send it around that he may never type another script again.

"But what if there's nothing wrong with it?" you ask? Lie. Make up something that's wrong. But never, EVER praise the work of a competitor. Don't offer to show it to a friend in the business.

If someone's on a high after placing in the Nicholl Fellowship, remind him that the Nicholl doesn't mean shit in the real world. If someone got a meeting with a Hollywood player, point out that 99% of those meetings never lead anywhere except the writers doing a lot of work for free. The only reason any of you should spend a great deal of time on message boards is to undermine each other and to get everyone else to second-guess their own talent.

If you're a pro like me and a friend asks you to pass a script to your agent, you say "no." If he asks you to look at it and give feedback, you can say "no," but it's better to say yes and then hit them with so many notes they'll be rewriting until President Palin finishes her fourth term in office. (Repeal the 22nd Amendment!)

No one ever got anywhere in this business by helping other people. It's not "show friends," it's "show business."

Harsh? It's kill or be killed out there. Take your pick. We are all diminished by the achievements of our competition.

The views expressed by Mr. Stryker are Mr. Stryker's opinions and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Bitter Script Reader, Blogger, or any of affiliated sites linked on the side of the blog.

If you have an issue with Mr. Stryker, the Bitter Script Reader suggests contacting Tripp directly at his Twitter: @TrippStryker or his email address: