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Screenwriting : How do you know when your script is READY? by Cali Gilbert

Cali Gilbert

How do you know when your script is READY?

Hello all! Just completed the first draft of my first feature length script and wondering what steps to take next. Do I submit for coverage and when do I know when it's ready to submit to contests? Thanks everyone. Eager to learn.

Wal Friman

I feel ready when I think the script displays where I truly stand.

Cali Gilbert

Thanks Wal Friman

David Whelan

Tricky question, for me it's never ready. Every now and then I'd look at an old script and add something or change some dialogue. But I guess entering into competitions with feedback is useful. I enter my scripts into small ones at first and if they don't place well then I know there crap lol. Not very helpful I know.

Cali Gilbert

Haha David Whelan Appreciate the response.

Rob Jones

I personally look for other writers/readers to give free feedback. Sites like Zoetrope, coverflyx, talentville, Simply scripts, also here or Reddit you can swap and or seek out people to give feedback. If it's a draft you're pretty satisfied with I'd set it aside and not think about it as you get some people to tell you what they think and hopefully start on another script. after you get a bunch of feedback eventually take it back out with all the feedback go over the script again and see how you feel about it now.

Cali Gilbert

Thanks Rob Jones YES! That's what I was thinking as well. I've already begun working on another script.

Pierre Langenegger

My advice is, do not pay for feedback for your first script.

Don't take this the wrong way but unless you are exceptionally gifted as a writer, your first script will most likely be bad and any money you spend on it will be a waste when you can get the sort of feedback you need for free. As Rob Jones said above, look for peer review sites, they will give you the level of feedback you need at this stage of your career. Most of them will require you to give feedback to others and this is also an invaluable skill to possess.

Another thing you can do is read lots and lots of screenplays and when you're finished with those, read a lot more. This will teach you format and structure and dialogue and story. If you want to spend money on professional help, do it when you become a better writer. That way the money goes toward honing your skills instead of simply telling you that you're doing it wrong.

Cali Gilbert

Thanks @pierrelangenegger Great advice for sure for a new writer. I've published several bestselling books but just a new screenwriter. This script as actually an adaptation of one of my books. I do read lots of scripts and certainly learning a lot and not afraid to ask for guidance. So appreciate your words. Will certainly look into free coverage where I can also read other's material as well.

Pierre Langenegger

My apologies, Cali, I didn't realize you're an accomplished writer already, however my suggestion still stands as there is a big difference between a novel and a screenplay, so I still think you should be seeking free feedback for your first script. If you'd like to connect with me, I'd be happy to give you feedback on your first ten pages.

Cali Gilbert

Oh absolutely Pierre. I agree. Huge difference and I do appreciate the offer. Many thanks.

Pierre Langenegger

That can happen, Erik, but it's extremely rare. Hemingway is quoted as saying "The first draft of anything is shit".

Jamie Sadler

PUT IT AWAY AND WRITE TWO MORE WITHOUT GOING BACK TO EDIT ANYTHING. Then go back to your first as a much better feature writer with fresh eyes and a lot more hours under your belt. It's horrible to hear but you'll be so pleased in 3 years that the first thing you wrote didn't swallow up your first 3 years of feature writing.

Pamela Bolinder

The name of the game is rewriting. The magic happens when you come up with a great concept, produce a well-written script and have a strong hook. Rewriting: further development by improving scenes, plot, and character arcs. I have read easy-to-read (not clunky or a slog to get through) well-written scripts that have concepts that are not interesting, too safe, too sanitized. Gifted storytellers are gifted scene-writers. After you nail down how-to-write scenes, you must strategically connect scenes with increasing tension/suspense to drive interest. Besides the execution of the script, the reader analyzes if the script matter is appealing to buyers. I agree with Erik, adding: if you improve storytelling elements (previously mentioned), you can get it right the first time. I wonder if many scriptwriters abandon work that would have shined if they applied more polish.

Cali Gilbert: I would take that first draft and send it to a script reader who has a reputation for helping you understand HOW to improve your script not just tell you it needs to improve. If you need a recommendation PM me. There are those that are affordable. Some not. Every day, I visit Stage 32 to learn how to be a better storyteller. There are some here who are very knowledgeable and helpful. Wishing you the very best with your writing success!

Artisan James

When you truly believe in it and believe in it more than anything... send it.

But that's going to take a lot of refining. So it's time to start that process.

John Ellis

Completely agree with Pierre Langenegger. Take that first script and put it in a drawer, start on another. Then another, then another. About the 5th one will be ready for contests. Don't pay for coverage, consultants, script doctors. Submit to contests, submit to prodcos or managers. If you can afford it, submit to well-known contests that offer feedback for an extra fee - that's the only time one should pay for feedback, IMHO.

Pamela Bolinder

The reason I send my work to script readers (professional/reputable) is so that I can prepare it to be in the best condition possible before I send it to contests, producers, directors and/or agents and managers. We write for the masses—getting another set of eyes on my work improves its appeal factor to the masses. For example, a script reader gave me this (what I thought was crazy) out-of-the-box idea from a man's POV. I decided to run with it -- reconstructed a few scenes, and wa-la—the story is better.

Cali Gilbert

WOW! Thank you ALL so much. I feel like I've started a new school and eager to learn, so really appreciate all the feedback. I have set the script aside and working on the next as I'm in a flow and eager to get what's in my head down on paper. I'll definitely send the first one out to some readers for feedback as well and improve as much as I can before submitting. Thanks again!

Dan Guardino

Congrats on finishing your first screenplay. I never get feedback but if I was starting over I would probably try to get someone with a lot of experience read it and and let me know what I was doing wrong. Then I would fix it and maybe pay some script consultant to give me some feedback. I worked as a Script Consultant but I never worked for and never want to work for a screenwriter so I don't give feedback. However there are a few here that would probably do a good job.

Carolyn McDonald

Re-writing... for sure. But when you have a draft you feel good about, what helps so much is hearing actors read it aloud. Helps the next rewrite a whole lot!

Cali Gilbert

Oh absolutely Carolyn McDonald Definitely plan that route. :)

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