Proofreading your movie script is crucial if you want to get anybody to read it. Agents, producers, directors, even stars will take one look at your screenplay and move it to the ‘reject’ pile if it’s not properly formatted or looks unprofessional. You’ve put everything you’ve got into your movie script. If you don’t put on the finishing touches on it before you start shopping it around you can kiss your dreams of being a pro scriptwriter goodbye.
If you’ve just completed your first screenplay about a Las Vegas Immigration Lawyer, you’re super excited about getting it out there and finding a buyer as fast as possible. (Hollywood is big on “hurry up and wait” so get started on your next movie script.) All good scriptwriters know you must take a look at it with a critical eye first.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Step away from your screenplay: It’s impossible to sit down to proofread and edit your movie script the minute you’ve completed a first draft. The details – as you wrote them – are too fresh in your mind and you’ll miss things like continuity errors and dialogue that needs to be tweaked. Hire a professional to look over your work with an expert eye for what Hollywood needs to see on the page.
**NOTE: A completed script is not a finished script. To be finished a movie script must have gone through:
many, many passes
pro story analysis done
red-pen mark-up proofreading or editing done
and be ready to go to market (sold). You personally cannot do more than half of those elements listed above – get a pro if you want to finish your script. A “completed” script is not enough.
Be objective: You are not an expert so proofreading your screenplay yourself is impossible. You should, however, read it as if it were written by someone else. If you’re not able to do this put it in the hands of the pro immediately and state it is just a draft and you need feedback. Looking at your script through someone else’s eyes will show you the mistakes you’ve made. A friend or relative is not qualified to do this, get a pro.
Proper formatting is essential: Script writing software programs will format your screenplay for you, but it is just a guideline. For professional script writing it is a waste to do the formatting yourself like in a Word doc on How to get your screenplay made into a movie. Formatting for dialogue, character names, and scene direction is essential as they are what drive your movie script.
Ask for help early: Even formatting errors seriously affects the reader’s ability to visualize your screenplay. YOU are not making a movie – you are making a movie script that will be sold and made into the movie by someone else. (Unless of course, you are writing to produce, direct, and/or act in it yourself.) Know the difference. Write to sell. If you are hesitant about proofreading then you must come to terms with the fact that you write screenplays as a hobby, NOT as an aspiring professional scriptwriter.
Get pro help, get pro coaching, get pro feedback if you really to write movie scripts that can be sold. Don’t waste your time with the dream of being a produced scriptwriter if all you’ve got is a story. Movies are NOT stories.
You must get help and pro feedback to know how to stand out from the crowd.
Your script must be easy to read, no typos, no continuity errors, no holes in premise/concept
NO ONE will take the time to try sifting through your material, trying to make heads or tails out of it. Not when they have so many others to choose from.