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Archive for April, 2011

10 ways to know your script is finished Apr 24

“Just because you’re sick of your script doesn’t mean it’s finished.”
- William M. Akers

I’ve recently put the finishing touches on a sci-fi comedy script. It took a while, but it’s finally done. How did I know it was done? Here’s the criteria I use:

10 ways to know your script is finished

  1. How do you know when your screenplay is finished?You believe every scene is excellent
    Even if there’s only one scene that isn’t popping, you still have work to do.
  2. You can read through your entire script without picking at it
    How do you know you’re full? You can pass a buffet table without picking at something to eat. The same is true with your script.
  3. You believe it’s as good as some of your favorite scripts
    If you don’t think it’s as good as some of your favorite scripts, you need to keep working on it. You’re not competing with other amateurs, you’re competing with the pros.
  4. You’re really proud of it
    In order for your script to sell, someone has to fall in love with it. If you don’t love it, it’s unlikely anyone else will either. If you believe something’s still not working with your script — you’re right.
  5. The readers you respect and believe tell you it’s great
    Has anyone (other than a loved one) told you your script was great? If not, it’s a good idea to get some validation from someone who’s read a ton of scripts in your genre.
  6. It’s the right length for the genre you’re writing
    If your comedy spec is 129 pages — and your last name isn’t Apatow — you should probably make some cuts. And no — fudging the line spacing isn’t a viable alternative. A seasoned reader can tell something is off, a quarter of a second after looking at your first page.
  7. It bears little resemblance to the first draft
    I’m not sure all first drafts are shit — but they should undoubtedly pale in comparison to the final draft. No one can write a 110 flawless pages in a row. Take the time to make your script the best it can be.
  8. When you go to rewrite, you instead find yourself getting wrapped up in your story
    After several drafts, do you ever find yourself reading through your script and simply enjoying the ride? Do you have to remind yourself that you’re supposed to be reading through your script with a view to editing it? If so, your script might be ready to go.
  9. Every time you try to improve it, it gets longer
    If there are parts of your script that you think are great, but maybe could be improved by adding to the page count, that’s a good sign you’re done… unless your script is only 60 pages long.
  10. You start to make changes that make the script different — not better
    At some point after the 73rd draft, you’ll read through your screenplay with bleary eyes and just start changing things because you’re sick of the same joke, or you no longer find a scene to be surprising, etc. That’s normal. It doesn’t mean that you’re making your script any better by changing it. It may just mean that your script is finished and you need to back away from the keyboard.

Bonus Answer: You’re watching your movie in the theatre!
In reality, your script is never finished. If it’s good enough to get an agent or manager, maybe it needs some work before sending to a producer. If a producer is interested, maybe it needs some work before they’ll send it to their studio contacts. If a studio likes it, maybe it needs some work before they’ll greenlight it. If the movie is greenlighted, maybe it needs some work before the director and stars are happy with it. If everyone’s happy with it, maybe it needs some work because there’s nothing else for the execs to tinker with until production begins. Once production begins, maybe it needs some work because the realities of the shooting location require scene changes… and on it goes.

    What did I leave off this list? How do YOU know when your screenplay is finished (other than someone handing you a check for it)?


    Want me to read your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

    Category: Writing  | 7 Comments
    Photo Quotables: Enrique Jardiel Poncela Apr 15

    Some quick inspiration from PhotoQuoto.com:

    When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. ~ Enrique Jardiel Poncela

    When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.
    ~ Enrique Jardiel Poncela

    That goes for both ease of comprehension, and ease of actually saying the line.

    In my writing group, often times we’ll come across lines that are easy to read with the eye, but yet trip people up when the lines are read out loud. It’s always a good idea to review whether or not these lines were inherently difficult to say, or were just difficult for that particular reader to say.


    Want me to read your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

    Category: Quotes, Writing  | 2 Comments
    Michele Wallerstein Seminar – May 14 Apr 15

    Michele WallersteinMichele Wallerstein, who has contributed a number of great articles and insights to Scriptwrecked, will be offering a seminar on May 14, 2011 in Sherman Oaks, California.

    The seminar is entitled “What do you do next?” and will cover such topics as:

    • Plot
    • Budget
    • Characters
    • What does the Hollywood studio look for in a spec script?
    • What do studio executives look for in a new writer?
    • How to find an agent
    • How to get an agent to want you
    • How to network at writers events
    • What does an agent expect from you
    • The difference between managers and agents
    • How to Follow-up
    • Using and finding “contacts”
    • The “Hollywood” attitude and how to work it

    For more information on this seminar, please visit Michele’s web site.

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