Copywriters have screenplays in their drawer, up their sleeve and on their mind. It’s just the way it is.
Some writers never go anywhere with their day dreams, others move to Hollywood and through a special blend of luck, talent and sheer will, manage to see their ideas turned into multi-million dollar productions. Some, like Robert Pirosh, a copywriter turned screenwriter, go on to earn an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (in 1949 for Battleground).
Before he reached this lofty height, Pirosh first had to impress a studio exec to put him on the job. Letters of Note has Pirosh’s query letter:
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
385 Madison Avenue
It’s a good reminder to copywriters and screenwriters that writing well is an important part of the job, along with ideation.