I just had a writer friend send me a short script yesterday that she asked me to read. Two weeks ago, another screenwriter friend sent me a feature script and asked me for feedback. Though I read scripts on a regular basis, including some I'm paid to read and evaluate, I must confess I'm not reading as many as I should. Reading other writer's screenplays can help you incorporate fresh ideas into your toolbox. According to consultant Paula Landry, you can learn about the following:
The first ten pages are important. These are basically traffic lights – go, stop, read with caution. If the first 10 pages are good, I can’t wait to keep going.
Ms. Landry further states:
There were so many ways I was impressed with the wonderful writers I encountered. Lots of good ideas, professional follow-up, careful proofing, good dialogue, like-able characters, fresh perspectives. Solid structure. Lack of camera instructions, directorial instructions, and production design instructions. I read many projects where the writers concentrated on the writing. I liked many of the scripts I read, even though I knew the genre or budget wasn’t a fit for my client.
According to Ms Landry, here's where other writer's often miss the mark.
-Character Study type of story with skinny plot, no payoffs
-Structural and formatting gaffes– either with bold headings, all caps in strange places,
-Random description in the scene headings which belonged in a different element.
-In just a few scripts – No like-able character. Not one. Hated everyone.
Though the thought of it makes my head spin, Ms. Landry suggests that screenwriters pick up the gauntlet and read at least one screenplay a day for 3 weeks (21 days). That's a wee bit too zealous for me, but Ms Landry suggests that it's a great way to sharpen one's writing skills.
What's a three week commitment? What say you?