A Screenwriter’s Guide to Working With Independent Producers

Here are the Screenplay Readers Top 6 most important things for us screenwriters to remember when “getting into bed” with any indie producer. And by the way, some of the rules may even apply to studio producers in some instances, so it’s good to keep all of these in your toolbox when considering any deal for your screenwriting services.

How to write script coverage for your own screenplay

Have you ever considered giving yourself script coverage? Have you ever considered reading your own script and providing script coverage for it? Lo, and yea, and verily, the benefits can be massive, not just for the script itself, but for a screenwriter’s long-term ability to distance herself from her own work.

Why Introvert Screenwriters Need To Collaborate

Ever since I started writing, I’ve been an introvert writer. At first, out of necessity, then out of pure mimicry of the supposed lone, struggling artist banging away on his typewriter, then, as I got older, and time grew shorter, out of the desperate pursuit pure chronological efficacy. I’ve never been an introvert socially; just … Read more

Set Etiquette for Screenwriters

If you’re lucky/skilled/badass enough to have one of your screenplays optioned/bought and kicked into production, and if they’ve invited you to be a part of the experience of filming it, you might want to keep in mind, matey, the fact that thar be only a few things an on-set screenwriter is expected to actually, well, do.

Review of the Screenwriting App Writer Duet

Revised 6/1/2015:  A quick heads up: a few years after this article was written, an online screenwriting platform, Screencraft’s Scripped.com, basically lost all their users’ data and scripts. Almost immediately, Screencraft deleted all social media and the Scripped website. What’s more, at some point before they took Scripped offline, Screencraft, (the owner of Scripped as … Read more

Writers groups — the pros and cons for screenwriters

I’m a huge fan of writers groups. Screenwriting, like all writing, is mostly a very lonely endeavor.  One woman.  One word processor.  Or two, if you’re collaborating.  But ironically, the end goal of all screenwriting has traditionally been a stack of pages that get turned into a film that’s projected in front of a room … Read more

How to tell you’re reading a terrible screenplay

Sometimes, we script readers get lucky. That is, when we dig into a screenplay to give script notes or provide script coverage, sometimes we know right away that the script we’re reading is gonna be a painful read.
Most times, that takes us a few pages. But sometimes, right off the bat, we get some really great clues that let us know “Hey, this screenwriter isn’t professional.”

How script readers can spot an amateur screenwriter

Your script has a lot of working parts — character, dialogue, conflict, action, theme, beats, acts… It’s a heady brew of elements. And that heady brew boils down into an awful lot of specific criteria that anyone reading your script will judge it by, whether you’ve sent it in to a script contest, or a script coverage company, or an agent, or studio, or a name actor.

Give yourself better script notes

Sitting down to do your screenplay rewrite? Awesome! Do you have some notes to go on? No? Alas, script notes are valuable, right? Getting anybody to read your spec script is often a bit of a challenge, but trying to get script notes on it can be twice as hard. Folks like me and my team … Read more

8 Great Characters All Screenwriters Should Emulate

The “ideal” screenwriter.  Is it an impossible thing to aspire to?  I argue such aspiration is not only possible, but mandatory. Being great as a screen scribe isn’t easy, but the path has been clearly illuminated by not only the words and worlds of the great screenwriters who came before us, but by their living … Read more

7 Stupid Script Notes (and what they really mean)

Even stupid script notes are great for screenwriters. There. I said it. When a screenwriter asks for script notes from a script coverage company or a screenwriting group, that screenwriter assumes she’ll be receiving good notes on her screenplay, but even the bad ones can be good. And by good I mean useful. Because they … Read more

Free Script Feedback: When CUT TO isn’t needed in action text

The script has texture and realism. Now it just needs presentability. There’s a good conflict being set up. I’m aboard. Honestly, I like the story so far. Now I want to trust the writer more though. The pages can’t be such a chore do digest. Fix the typos which means less typos, more professional presentation. Don’t give them an excuse to put it down.

Final Draft’s response to my article on alternatives

Last week, I wrote an article titled 3 Great Alternatives to Final Draft that Are Either Free or Cheap, and posted a few free or cheap programs that I feel really give the screenwriting program Final Draft a run for its money. My criticism of the ever-ubiquitous Final Draft could’ve been received with disdain or a … Read more

What screenwriters can learn from Downton Abbey

If you’re a cynical screenwriter, like me, it’s not merely recommended that you watch all 3 seasons of PBS’ post-Edwardian period drama, Downton Abbey… …it’s utterly essential. Especially in today’s over-sexed, over-crimed, lowest-common-denominator TV viewing environment. (This article doesn’t give away any plot points or spoilers, so don’t worry.) Downton Abbey starts in the post-Edwardian era … Read more

What’s the difference between script notes and coverage?

Script coverage and script notes are two different beasts , but are really not all that far apart. Here are the primary differences: Script notes = MRI. Script coverage = checkup In a nutshell, script coverage is 2-4 pages of synopsis, comments, logline, and header information. It’s a quick doctor visit.  Is the patient’s pulse … Read more

How to tell a screenwriter that their script needs work

Telling a screenwriter that his script needs work isn’t easy. There are three immutable laws that govern screenwriting writ large: 1) Everybody has a script 2) Everybody is a critic 3) Some screenwriters aren’t quite good at handling honest feedback As screenwriters, we’ve all done “friend reads,” right? Me, despite doing script notes for a … Read more

How do I know when my screenplay is finished?

Ah, your screenplay is finished. That “Save as PDF” command is just dying for you to click it. Getting your script out there is you’ve been working years toward. It’s that final moment when you can say “I’m finished with this screenplay.  Time to move on to the next one.”  But how do you know when … Read more

How to Hang On To Your Screenwriting Credit

Screenwriting credits get watered down. It’s a fact of life, but it’s not unavoidable. Let’s say your screenplay is getting made into a motion picture by a mid-sized production company or small studio. Congrats! But that means an entire film crew is going to be reading your script now.  (Or at least skimming it, if … Read more

Is your ego keeping you from being a great screenwriter?

A screenwriter’s ego can be her greatest asset or her greatest liability. But are most screenwriters thinking about their screenplay, and how it will entertain an audience, or how it will provide jobs for hundreds of film industry folks, or how it will make money for the studio, or how it will leave a mark … Read more

Our funniest awful customers

They say a company is never supposed to publish the bad things people say about them.  Well, they may be right, but some of these are just too hard to resist posting. We’ve been reading scripts and providing script coverage at Screenplay Readers since 1999, and have had a ton of awesome feedback and glowingly positive testimonials … Read more

Ergonomics for Screenwriters

Screenwriters don’t think about ergonomics all that much. How does the saying go? “Typists type. Screenwriters stare out windows.” And when screenwriters are staring out windows, what are we doing? We’re sitting at our screenwriter desk. And when we’re not? We’re typing our screenplay.  And all that sitting down and mashing keys and staring out … Read more

Free Script Feedback: Don’t confuse (OS) with (VO)

OS is for OFF SCREEN. That’s what you have here. But even OS might be a bit confusing for us readers diving into your script and trying to orient ourselves. Strategically speaking, you may want to just write it all as one scene without starting on the panties/basement thing with the OS, just to get past readers.

Free Script Feedback: Keeping the action text active

Jimmy should know something’s wrong with his parents before the movie begins. Getting the information that they haven’t been around, and that the house is torn down comes way too late. The film can start off more tense if we see him anxious about getting home as fast as possible, but don’t quite know why until he reveals it to the old lady perhaps.

Why Screenwriters Need to Move to LA

Yeah, the world is shrinking, and yeah you can use Zoom or whatever,  to communicate across the globe, but if you’re serious about screenwriting, you straight up need to move to Los Angeles. I hate to say it.  As it is, me and my wife sometimes can’t get to the beach, or over to a museum, or … Read more

The Top 5 Skills Needed to Be A Great Script Reader

A great script reader requires five elemental traits: A Script Reader Must Have The Eyes and Ears of a Filmmaker First and foremost, the great script reader must be highly adept in the language of cinema. And not only on the written page, but in all aspects of production, post-production, pre-production, and everything in between. … Read more

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