You’re done writing your script. Congratulations on a terrific accomplishment! Writing a full length feature screenplay is no small feat. It takes talent, discipline and hard work, all in large amounts, in order to achieve this accomplisment, so take a moment to congratulate youself.
OK, now that that’s over…
It’s time to have your script evaluated by a professional reader.
“Why do I need to do that?” you might ask. Yes, it can be expensive, and it seems like an unnecessary expense, especially if you’re involved with writer’s groups and if you hang out with writers who have read your script and given you notes.
Here are five reasons to have your screenplay evaluated by a professional reader.
First, it gives you an unbiased analysis of your work. Why is this important? When you submit your screenplay to a studio, production company or agency, the first person that reads it is a reader, be it one that works for the company directly or on a freelance basis. That person has never met you and has no reason to care about your script other than whether or not it’s good. A professional reader will treat you the same way.
Second, a professional reader will find the same issues with your script that a studio or agency reader will find. The biggest difference is that when you get an analysis from a professional reader, you’ll have a chance to address those notes. Once a studio or agency reader passes on your script, that’s it the majority of the time. You won’t get another chance with that company with that script. But quite often, especially if the professional reader you hire has studio experience, as I do, that reader will have insight to what studio executives and producers look for and desire in the material they consider. Having a professional reader give you an evaluation gives you a chance to polish your script to up the odds that it will be picked up.
Third, getting consistant professional evaluations will make you a better writer. How? The average reader has read hundreds, or perhaps even a couple of thousand scripts over the course of his or her career. Getting an analysis from a reader is like getting an informal screenwriting class with your scipt as the subject. Not all writers are perfect, and there’s probably an aspect of screenwriting that you, as a writer, struggle with. A professional reader has seen almost every issue in screenwriting and can recognize it immediately and offer up solutions that perhaps you hadn’t thought of before. Taking lessons you learn from a professional reader will make you a better writer.
Fourth, getting professional coverage shows that you’re serious about your work. Anyone can get a friend to read their script. I’m sure your mother is very impressed with it, and is absolutely certain that any Hollywod executive would be happy to hand you a six or seven figure paycheck for the privilege of producing it. But it takes courage to put your script out there for an honest, no-holds-barred analysis. If you are legitimately concerned about the quality of your work, this type of analysis is essential to getting you work to stand out in a very crowded field.
Fifth, and most importantly, it will ultimately make your script better. And shouldn’t that be the main goal? You want to write the best script that you can, and getting a professional analysis will point out warts and problems in the script that you haven’t seen. Even when you’re in a writers group, it’s possible to be too close to the work. A professional writer has a fresh set of eyes that hasn’t been there for all of the drafts and rewrites. The jokes will be fresh or flat, the dialogue will be crisp or contrived, and the story will work or it won’t. A professional analysis will show you where your script isn’t working, and help you to get it to work better.