Once again I want to be fair and say not every writer needs to write five or ten screenplays to see their first one produced. Though that is more the norm the exception. Of course, the current jackpot winner of first scripts produced is Diablo Cody who wrote Juno which won an Oscar. More recently, Mark Boal was nominated for an Oscar for his first script, The Hurt Locker. So it happens. But I should also point out that both Cody and Boal were well-educated in writing and both had over a decade of regular writing behind them in other forms before they turned to screenwriting.
And I just learned of a 37-year-old writer who is more known as a game designer and video games journalist who had his first script attract the attention of the Hughes Brothers and Denzel Washington. The result, The Book of Eli is currently in theaters.
“In the case of (The Book of) Eli, the fact that it was a very simple plot and that the characters in my mind made it come together very quickly. Like I said, I was writing probably like sixteen or eighteen hours a day. I was just so into the idea that I couldn’t stop writing it and that’s why the first draft came together in six days.”
The Film Stage
No matter how you do the math, either the first time screenwriter or the person who wrote 10 or 15 scripts before they broke through, there are a lot of years and a lot of pages behind them.