By Brock Cooper (doddleNEWS)
It can be rough writing a screenplay for the first time. Odds are your script isn’t perfect because you haven’t done this before or really bounced it off someone. There are numerous people out there that are willing to take a look at your script and suggest changes, edits, etc. They’re called script doctors.
It makes sense that you’d want to use a script doctor. If you have a book, then you’d want a professional editor to look at it before sending it to a publisher and the same goes for scripts. The thing to remember is that not all script doctors are the same.
There are three basic types of script doctors: the professional, the teacher and the scammer.
Professionals are people in the industry that have actually had movies made. They have a resume of screenwriting credits to their names and actually know the industry. They may also have a standard writing and editing background as well. They have the knowledge and experience to make your screenplay great. They will make sure it’s a good polished story, both mechanically and editorially.
Teachers are the doctors that have a degree from a university or studio reading experience, but have never actually had a screenplay produced themselves. If they are former readers, then they know what the studios are looking for. They can suggest changes to make your script sellable, even if it doesn’t stay true to the story. They may not be as clinical about the formal mechanics, but provide a more general review.
Scammers are the dregs of the screenwriting world. They don’t have experience in writing or the industry. They may have a fancy website that talks about how awesome they are, but when it comes to the actual doctoring they falter. You’ll find them charging you for editing and then either never hear from them again or the edits they provide are preposterous. Some are even criminals and will attempt to steal screenplay ideas for themselves.
Making a Choice
There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of script doctors out there. Their prices are all over the place depending on experience and previous results. The key to choosing one is research. It’s important not only to research their websites and find out more about them, but also to do some research on their reputation.
The best research is word of mouth. If you know any screenwriters that have had positive experiences with screenwriters, then they should definitely head to the top of your list. If not, then go with the standard Google search. If there are people out there that have had bad experiences, then they should drop to the bottom of your list.
A Popular Tactic
There are tons of screenwriting contests out there and script doctors will often sponsor contests as a way to get business. You are one of possibly hundreds of people entering the contest and only one person gets the prize. The rest get a nice e-mail thanking them for the submission and suggesting your script could really use their services.
Personally, I guess there isn’t anything wrong in doing that, but I always thought it was a little slimy.