How you handle exposition is one of the key indicators of whether or not you can actually write. It is notoriously difficult to relay exposition effectively without it becoming mired in on-the-nose dialogue that screams “amateur screenwriter alert.” Screenwriters who struggle with deftly relying important information are also the screenwriters that struggle to get anything Read More
HIRING A SCRIPT DOCTOR
So, you’ve decided to hire a script doctor to look at your script. But maybe you’re finding someone suitable among all the hundreds of script doctors out there a little tricky. Here’s our advice on how you can narrow the search…
When shopping for a script reader or doctor, look for someone who isn’t simply an editor and ask to see a sample of their work. You want a script reader who has told the writer of the sample whether or not the stakes feel high enough for the genre. Do they discuss stakes in every aspect of the screenplay, from the point of view of the characters, story and structure?
Look at how they discuss the characters. Do they talk in terms of there being depth to all of them? Which characters seem flat and which seem realistic? Do they look at who arcs? Who doesn’t? When do they arc? And how?
Do they provide in-depth script analysis? Do they talk about structure solely in terms of three acts? Or do they break down the script into sequences as well? What about scenes? Do they just say “the scenes need work” or do they tell the writer how tension and stakes can be improved by using a Call to Action, Big Event, Midpoint etc. scene structure?
Overall, you want to choose a script reader who not only discusses all of these aspects in the sample, but actively instructs the writer how to fix them. We can’t possibly list all the areas of judgment a screenplay consultant use without boring you to death and coming across like an advertisement for ScriptReaderPro; but the point is, it is worth it to us, and I’d argue it’s worth it to any screenwriter worth his or her salt.
You may think you can’t afford screenplay readers; maybe at the moment you can’t. That’s fine. The next best thing is to try and get yourself some industry contacts who are willing to peruse your screenplay and give you thoughtful, insightful and truthful notes. But that is a true rarity. Sometimes friendships, or a lack of time, or understanding, can muddy the waters.
It takes two to three months to write a screenplay, at a minimum. And once it’s submitted you’ll never get a second read on it from a manager, agency or production company. Ever. This is why it’s super important that they have the chance to read the best draft of your screenplay possible.
Production companies, agencies, etc. log the coverage they do on your script; and if you submit another draft at a later date, the first thing they do is search your name in their database. What they find had better be coverage done on the best version of your script possible, or the script you’ve just spent three months rewriting might never even be opened. The same goes for future screenplays you submit to said company.
The simple truth is that you are too close to your screenplay and your characters to critique it effectively. While you are the only one who knows the pieces well enough to understand HOW to fix problems, you are also the only person who can’t see the problems to begin with. And that’s why you need a script doctor.
If you’re writing a comedy, your dialogue had better be funny. Not jokey. Not just a comment. Not just blue, throw away humor, but studio-readers-are-dying-from-laughter funny... Think of all the comedy dialogue you hear with weak jokes or line deliveries. Now multiply that times a thousand, because that’s how many different studio readers read last Read More
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