Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What's the point of a scriptreader?

Now I don't mean a scriptreader who works (employed directly or freelance) for a production company and checks through the masses of scripts they get in to separate the wheat from the chaff. (Not much wheat, loads of chaff.)

I mean what good is a scriptreader to you? Why should you pay out good money for someone to read what you're written.

(This is not an advert, I don't do scriptreading, I have however done book reading and book editing and one day I might write a blog about it, or two.)

Unfortunately the answer came to me the other day when a spec script I've been working on for a long time came back, covered in red ink. Figuratively. Honestly I almost cried, though that may have been the onions.

Once upon a time this script was clear of adverbs and continuous tense, plus odd mistakes with apostrophes. (At least one reader had been amazed at how free of errors it was - but then they didn't know my history.)

But over time, through the rewrites and the edits, they had crept back in and I hadn't noticed.

So on the most basic mechanical level what a reader is for is providing that second set of eyes that sees the things that you miss. No matter how experienced you are and I've had experience writing as a magazine editor for over 15 years. But that experience counts for so little when it's your own work.

Then there were the rubbish scenes, irrelevant scenes. Even I knew they were unnecessary, flabby, pointless ... and I left them in. Why? Too lazy. I had intended to remove them at some point but never got round to it. Super scriptreader strikes again.

And then there's all the things they look at, overall structure for example, when you've written the work it can be very hard to see the wood for the trees. And you need to have that bird's eye view. Dialogue? is it up to scratch?

A good scriptreader will save you time and heartache. They can't turn you into an inspirational writer but with sound mechanics at least your script won't suck.

What's on the turntable? "Cannonball" by Sky from "Sky" (or at least it would be if I hadn't switched it off.)

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