For any screenwriter, getting feedback on your screenplay is pivotal to creating your best work. There are many sources of feedback for screenwriters. With this post, I’ll be focusing on table reads, or read-throughs, and their importance to the editing and revising process.
After completing your first screenplay and sitting with it for a minute or two, you’ll want to get instant feedback. This is where traditional read-throughs come into play. Read-throughs are an excellent source of feedback when it comes to fine-tuning any aspect of your script. Seeing and typing words on the screen is very different from hearing your words read aloud.
The vibe of a read-through is best summed up in its definition:
an initial rehearsal of a play at which actors read their parts from scripts.
You don’t necessarily need professional actors to make your words come to life. But you will need willing participants to read your script. Family members. Friends. Classmates. Co-workers. Anybody will do when it comes to bringing your dialogue to life. You might want to let your readers look over the script to give them a chance to pick which characters they want to voice. Outside of the speaking parts, there is the issue of narration. You need someone to give your characters’ actions pizzazz as the screenplay takes shape.
With characters and narration set, there is the issue of the venue. Big or small. Well-lit or dim. Living room, kitchen table or bedroom. The place for the script reading doesn’t matter as long as everyone is comfortable and understand what the goal of the read-through is. All you really need is the right creative atmosphere to produce a fruitful reading.
Once everything is set, the hard part begins – hearing your words read aloud for others to hear. It can be scary but don’t worry because it’s all a part of the process. Having others read your words allows you to hear what dialogue doesn’t sound correct or feels off for a certain character. What directions or actions are more tell than show in the script? Is too much dialogue and not enough action, or vice versa? Is the plot moving forward or stagnant? Is the climax strong enough? These are some of the questions that might arise as you hear your words outside your mind and computer screen. That’s okay because this is another step in perfecting your screenplay. You might be in your feelings as you hear feedback from others. That just means you have a real passion for what you’re writing, but don’t let keep you from hearing good constructive criticism.
Hopefully, this post has introduced you to your new best friend – the table read. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.
Come back later this week as I speak on another source of feedback – critiques.
While this week’s first entry focused on proofreading, this second part will look at getting a clean copy when editing and revising. Make sure to have your computer screen up and a red marker ready for an exciting ride.
With proofreading out of the way, let’s get to business shall we – actually reading through your script. For any writer, proofreading is a tedious process as you scan over every phrase and word in your writing. Screenwriting can be even more intense as one word or phrase correction can change the direction of a scene or act. Proofreading a screenplay usually goes through three phases to create a decent clean copy.
Phase 1 – the computer screen
All you have to do scroll through the pages at a snail’s pace to spot what misspellings and homophones you might catch. You can agree with your spellchecker or overrule it like a dictator. The choice is yours.
Phase 2 – the printout
Reading a hard copy of my script can an eye-opening moment as you comb through every character. Action. Word. Punctation. You’ll need a red pen and time as you can every page for a minute or two so no mistake is left behind. Make sure to keep tabs on your corrections by leaving a checkmark or X on each page.
Phase 3 – from the hard copy to the screen
At this point, you’ll be looking over the script page by page as you make corrections to your file. Just remember to look over the pages carefully so not to create more errors.
Bonus Phase – streamlining
As a writer, cutting away the excess can be very helpful in fine-tuning your screenplay. Eliminating unnecessary words and phrases can create a balance between dialogue and action and reduce repetition.
By reading this post, you’ll be able to work out the bugs out and fine-tune your script just in case your big moment arrives. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.
Come back next week for more insight from The Screenwriting Forum.
Last week, the focus was on preparing for the daunting yet rewarding task of editing and revising. Getting into this somewhat scary process by proofreading is this week’s focus. So get your cursor or pens ready to begin!
Proofreading is a writer’s best weapon when it comes to creating a nice clean copy for potential prospects or running into your favorite producer or filmmaker (just kidding about that part – remember to go through the proper channels).
What pesky obstacles or offenders are you trying to spot when proofreading. Here are some common ones:
- Misspelling – these common mistakes will scream at you from the screen with their antagonizing red lines. Here’s where you search and correct them.
- Homophones – these pesky annoyances will hide amongst a descriptive action or well-written dialogue until you read through the script. They sound right but look awkward.
- Punctuations – Sometimes being in the mood as a screenwriter can lead to a question mark being placed where a period is needed. This is an easy fix with a good read through.
- Capitalization – As you write and format your screenplay, it can tricky trying to keep up with all the proper names. sounds, and directions that need proper capitalization.
Besides the typical mistakes, two majors that can cause any screenwriter to almost have a mental breakdown: omissions and improper formatting.
Omissions are any writer’s worst nightmare (especially for a screenwriter). Missing dialogue. A vanished monologue. A pivotal scene going missing. Snafus like these can be a setback, but with some patience and proper planning, you’ll be able to find your way out of this mind-numbing episode.
Formatting can be another nightmare as scene directions turn into a piece of dialogue or vice versa. Scene headings becoming transitions. Floating dialogue without its proper character to say it. All you have to do is look through, see what needs some attention and correct it in the screenwriting software of your choice.
Before we move on, here are some common homophones you may run across:
- its vs. it’s
- they’re vs. there vs. their
- to vs. too vs. two
- you’re vs. your
- affect vs. effect
- then vs. than
- led vs. lead
Hopefully, Reading this post has helped you on your journey to working the bugs out in your script. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.
Look out for part 3 of Editing and Revising later on today.
So you finished your first screenplay, now what do you do? It’s time to start revising and editing your work. While this might seem like an overwhelming task, there’s no need to worry because The Screenwriting Forum is here to help.
With any piece of writing, a writer needs to prep for the process as it can be long depending on the length of the script. Here are a few suggestions for the road to revising:
A computer and printer: These two essentials are necessary for your revising journey as they allow you to edit and revise your screenplay through a computer screen and a nice print-out.
Writing tools: Pens. Pencils. Markers. Highlighters. Whatever you need to strikethrough, write notes, add in or correct while reading your screenplay.
Writing mood setters: Your favorite pen. A personal trinket. Your favorite snack. Everyone has something that aides them in the writing process.
Find a comfortable spot: This all depends on what you need as a writer to concentrate – some need a quiet tucked-away spot while others enjoy the ambiance of a coffee shop. Just find what works for you.
Along with these suggestions, here is a book to reference during the process:
The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style (2nd Edition) by Christopher Riley
Hopefully, now that the preparation is out of the way, you are now ready to start revising and editing your screenplay. Get ready for a mix of hard work and fun as you take this journey with The Screenwriting Forum.
Come back next week for Part 2 of Editing and Revising. See you then.