With the creation of Level 4 Films, Inc. to focus on the film space, I’ve been looking at a lot of material from Level 4 Press Inc. and other sources (books, plays, screenplays) to identify properties that I think I could potentially sell. I’ve been fortunate to have spent a lot of time lately with acquisition executives in the film industry, and I think I’ve got a pretty good overall idea of the minimum necessary to at least get a script read. So here are some of the elements I (and they) are looking for.

Interesting Characters: Whatever genre you’re writing for, there will be characters. Those characters can behave largely as expected, or they can be quirky, strange, interesting, unpredictable. Interesting characters are easier to sell than plain characters that behave as expected.

An Interesting World: The world itself can be boring, just fading into the background of the story, or it can be interesting, deep, complex, unexpe. It’s obviously easier to create an interesting world if the world you’re writing about is inherently interesting. For example, this explains our fascination with Science Fiction, historical pictures, war movies, and so on. But even if you’re creating something taking place today, you can find a way to make the world of the story interesting as well.

A hook that is compelling and unique. In a brief sentence, what’s the heart of the idea? Is that compelling? Is it unique?

If you have these three elements in place and successful, that’s enough to get my interest. Even if the writing itself is flawed, that can be fixed as long as these elements are solid. But not even the best writing can salvage something that is lacking in one or more of these areas. In that situation, the best you can hope for is to start over, restructure and rethink, and then reuse components that will still work in the new framework.