An excerpt from my script review for Wonka which will be available 01/08/24:

4.) Dialogue and Description

Here’s where we’re going to spend most of our time.

Pitching a spec script is quite the challenge.

Pitching a musical spec script…? You’ve just reduced your odds even further.

Now I’m not here to tell you not to write a musical.

Part of the “artist” aspect in being a writer is writing something because you want to write it, even if nobody ever reads it, let alone produces it.

But Hollywood is in the business of making money, which means you gotta convince them that your story can sell to audiences.

Writing a script is difficult enough, but composing lyrics to go into that script?

That’s quite the task, and your time may be better spent in another genre if you’re not yet in the industry.

(Have you started that contained horror script yet?)

The boss and the children think I’m good at making up new lyrics to existing songs, and although I think I can be clever at times with it, rarely do I have enough to get past a second verse.

This is something to consider, because for your spec musical you’ll be writing whole songs as you go.

And keep in mind, reading dialogue via lyrics is extremely hard to do, so readers will skim at best.

(For this script, I skipped large chunks of songs altogether, because it’s an existing property, Willy Wonka, and most felt like more of big production numbers than they did plot development.)

Even if you’re a talented songwriter, it’s still hard to tell what will resonate with an audience.

As an example, look at Encanto.

I guarantee you no one involved with that film could have ever guessed that We Don’t Talk About Bruno would be the runaway hit that it was.

Yet there my daughters were dancing around the living room singing it at the top of their lungs because of some TikTok videos.

The song was so enamoring that it convinced them to watch the film, and later watch it as a family because they enjoyed it so much.

(Similar to Barbie, I found it entertaining, but nothing revolutionary.)

My guess, as I didn’t hear my kids singing any of these Wonka songs, is that they were just…okay.

And that’s alright, because it’s hard to tell what will be a cultural phenomenon before a film hits theaters.

But one of the questions I asked myself from the very beginning of this story was, “Did this song need to be sung?”

That is something you need to ask yourself if you choose to write your own musical script.

Are your lyrics worthwhile and moving your plot forward?

For me, they should be both, otherwise you might just be trying to show off a musical talent that belongs in a different medium.

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