In a team of redactors as much as in an ordered work, the scenarist - rereader, and such - can be faced with colleagues or clients who have a strong feeling of authorship toward the project you’re working on. No need to mention that the scenarist must not misplace his pride, he must be able to defend his ideas and listen to critics. But not everyone can take a step back.

First of all, this article isn’t about criticizing this feeling of authorship, even if it’s misplaced. This is nevertheless a problem you can face pretty often. What is it, where does it come from, and how can you work around it ?

 

The french authorship concept and its consequences on the relationship between the author and ones text

I don’t know if it’s a particularity of the psychology of french people. Culturally speaking, however, everything is made in France to settle a strong affective link between the author and ones text.

A strong cultural inducement

The concept of authorship is very old. I’m thinking for example of Rabelais who obtained a royal privilege from the cardinal of Châtillon in 1550, which prohibited the impression or the modification of Rabelais’ works without his consent, preventing him from being accused of heresy (again) with texts he didn't write. From the end of the Middle Ages to nowadays, authorship enforced itself philosophically and legally. One usually mention Beaumarchais as a hinge in the history of french author’s rights.

The law endorse it

French author’s rights are made of two types of rights : the "moral right" and the "proprietary right". The proprietary right is about the commercial relationships concerning the work and makes it only partly transferable. In another hand, the moral right is "perpetual, inalienable, imprescriptible". It means that the author will always be linked to the text regarding ones "paternity" (that’s the french term, isn't it deliciously manly). The copyright system, such as in the United States, makes the work entirely transferable to someone else, this is an entirely proprietary system. Since the Raynal VS Atari case, french author’s rights may apply to video games.

In short, a text in France will always be the tiny lil goochie coochie baby of the author. This affective relationship can be very strong, especially with artistic creations, because it is always personal, and criticizing it can be interpretated as criticizing the person that made it.

The literary talent transmitted by the sacrosanct Pantheon

Another typically french imperfection is the belief that the literary talent comes from a transcendental mind opening through the Culture (legitimate, Parisian, bourgeois). Even when the university puts a commendable effort to learn from the USA’s creative writing, there is almost no way to face the question of a writing technique. Because such a technique probably doesn’t even exist in France. The french writer is perpetually in the shadow of the great french writers figures of the XIXth century. The french writer is just a reader.

Then, even in a professional field, the writing is still not really perceived as a discipline that needs technique and / or experience to achieve quality and a desired effect. The legitimacy of the authorship is more important.

 

Tact

The scenarist doesn’t have any ego (right ?)

As soon as a scenario is written, it must be criticized to hell in order to make it respond to demands, make it match with the project, make it include the good ideas of everyone (because more brains makes more ideas). This is a balance of power to the benefit of the text itself, which means for the player. A lot of feedback conversations must be planned with the team or the client before the scenario reaches its final state.

We’re talking about a professional relationship with the text. But if you reread or rewrite something that was written by someone without his consent, clashes occur. In the same way, it would be fair for me to send you Trevor if you present to me a rewrite of one of my short stories without my consent.

The Wall

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