As someone who has worked as a Script Analyst for the past decade, I am often asked to provide useful tips for screenwriters. Mostly writers want to know what production companies look for in scripts. There is no easy answer for this and honestly, it changes very often.
A Script Reader’s 5 Essential Tips For Screenwriters
One thing that does grab attention is an original and well-written story. So my main advice is to focus exactly on that. Here are a few additional tips for screenwriters:
1. Ask yourself this important question: Is my script ready to be read by a professional?
Be honest with your answer. Most executives, agents and producers are too busy to give your script multiple reads so DO NOT send it out unless it is ready. This is your opportunity to shine, do not waste it. Not to mention, first impressions are lasting so make a good one.
2. Show, don’t tell.
More often than not, there will be scenes in most scripts with characters TALKING about the action rather than SHOWING us. Remember that a screenplay is a blueprint for a visual medium. Exposition should provide the reader with information that is necessary. However, ask yourself if you can provide this necessary information for the audience in a creative and original manner.
3. Reread your work multiple times before submitting.
Bottom line is one read is not enough. Be cautious when reading because you are the writer and it is very easy for your eyes to skip over things another would not skip over. Rereading your work will give you ample opportunity to make changes and read over those changes to make sure they are effective and free of typos. And speaking of typos, make sure to edit your work and check for typos, grammar mistakes and incorrect word usage. While these things may not make or break one’s opinion of the script, they will certainly make it more difficult. Why start yourself out like that?
4. Stories are more effective when they are multi-dimensional.
Life is multi-dimensional, so wouldn’t it make sense that stories about it should be that too? One thing I remember when I heard filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan talk was his idea that every scene in a film should not only be about one thing as moments in life are never only about one thing. When a story has depth to it, it has more to offer.
5. Be very aware that readers are humans.
In a perfect world readers would be completely objective but unfortunately, that is not the case. The job of a reader is to apply their experience with story to craft a detailed, objective analysis of a script. That said, we are human and while we strive for this, we occasionally fall short. Also, there are bad readers in the bunch who do not strive for objectivity and that is an unfortunate fact too. The bottom line is ask yourself if you believe in your work and if the answer is yes, then keep getting it out there no matter what anyone says!
Armed with knowledge learned on many production jobs, Christina Parisi began making films in 2006. Her short films have played at film festivals worldwide and can be found on Amazon and GaiaTV. Her latest short documentary, Just Married, is about to hit the 2017 festival circuit. As Christina seeks financing for her co-written feature script, Driving Your Mind, she spends her time working as a script analyst and writing her personal blog, Life As I Know It.