Chasing Trends
By Bob Saenz

Chasing Trends. When screenwriters decide their next script will be thematically the same as whatever the latest hit film was.

And there are loads of so-called experts, including managers apparently, who think this is the only way for new writers to get themselves out there. Don’t write what you’re passionate about. Write something THAT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE.

Yeah… that’s the way to get noticed.

To me, trend chasing is an exercise in futility. Why? Films are developed over years. By the time your trend chasing script gets out there, that trend has been replaced by another one.

New writers get noticed for their trend setting, not chasing. By their wholly original work, which MAY NEVER GET MADE, but sets them apart from all the formula drones and trend chasers, whose scripts are routinely rejected at the first phase of review.

New writers get noticed by their own unique voice, a voice that gets attention instead of yawns or worse, derision when your script is the same as everyone’s. You get thrown into the reject pile or never read because your logline screams: Been Done to Death.

I can see how the wish of every screenwriter who wants their name on a studio film would think this was the way. But it’s a false flag. The writers whose names appear on those films got them there by first writing something so original that their writing was noticed as something different and that they knew how to tell an original story.

On a screenwriting board I look at occasionally, a writer was complaining that his manager was rejecting all his original ideas. Ideas that excited him as a writer. He was told he needed to chase trends, to write what THEY wanted him to write. I gave him the following advice:

Get a new manager.

If you can’t write what’s inside you aching to get out, how can you write honestly? And when reps tell you to chase trends they aren’t thinking of you as an individual artist, they’re thinking of you as no different from anyone else in their stable of writers. Part of the masses who write will write what they want so they can throw them all at the few walls and hope one will stick. Doesn’t matter which script or by which client. They aren’t managing you, they’re running a script farm.

It’s not an accident that the most exciting new original stuff is now streaming on platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu or on cable TV networks. These are ideas and scripts by people not afraid to go out of the box. To write what they’re passionate about. Did it take a long time to get there? You bet. It takes EVERYONE a long time to get there. But they got there. That’s the takeaway. Not by chasing a trend or using some phony roadmap of beats, but by being original storytellers.

Don’t chase trends. No matter what you hear or what “experts” say. You’ll always be late to the party. Write what moves YOU. Write a story you want to see. It might not be successful, because truthfully most every script isn’t. If that happens, write another one. Then another. You’ll see each one getting better and better as you get closer to revealing your own unique voice. The voice that sets you apart.

Now I have to get back to my new car chase script “Speedy and Really Really Mad.”

(For you out there who are literal, the above was a joke)

Go forth and write something original. IT MAY NEVER GET MADE. But it could get you a job writing Spiderman 12.

Follow me on Twitter. @bobsnz

Bob Saenz is a screenwriter, author, and actor, his dozen plus produced works include “Help for the Holidays”, “Rescuing Madison”, “Sweet Surrender”, On the 12 th Day of Christmas”, “Sound of Christmas”, “The Right Girl”, “Christmas in Love”, the comedy, “Church People”, the theatrical black comedy thriller “Extracurricular Activities”, and the Christmas Movie “The Christmas Yule Blog” and “The Farmer and the Belle” both new in 2020. He does rewrites, adaptations, and script polishes for hire on film and TV projects for Producers and Production Companies.


He’s the author of the popular screenwriting book “That’s Not the Way It Works: a no-nonsense guide to the craft and business of screenwriting.” He speaks and teaches screenwriting at writers’ conferences and film festivals across the country. His acting roles include a recurring character on the TV show “Nash Bridges”, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s “Valley of Light”, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Jack”, David Fincher’s “Zodiac”, Finn Taylor’s “Unleashed”, “Disrupted”, and “The Village Barbershop”, among dozens of others.

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