but one commentator says the real issue is free rewrites. Contracts are still mostly according to one set of editorial notes and then a copyedit (for books) or two drafts and a polish (for scripts). It’s never as simple as that.
It’s really tricky to balance the time a writer needs to spend on a project with what they actually get paid. Sometimes, to be fair, a writer puts in loads of work because that’s the only way of getting that book or script written, and written well. They know the money will never cover the amount of work, but they’re prepared to do it anyway.
Sometimes the writer’s put to extra work in a well-meaning way. For instance, one of my scriptwriters has been doing an ‘unofficial draft’, which is vetted before it goes to the overall producer. The process is streamlined this way, and my writer always gets praised for the quality of each draft. He’s more likely to get more work this way; the producers have faith in him, and word gets round.
But sometimes it’s a kind of car accident. Occasionally, when producer needs a quick rewrite from a writer and only has a small amount left in the budget, they think it’s a quick job and the money will cover it. Sometimes, though, it’s an enormous job to put the script right.
I love publishers and producers who know how much (or how little) they’re asking for, and find a fair fee for the writer. But I think it’s time we woke up from the myth that any good script or book can be written in two drafts and a polish.