You think your script is done? How do writers know when a script is ready for submission? This is a very important question as you might not get a second chance with the right person.
If you want to know when your script is ready to submit to a producer, manager, or writing program—-whatever it may be—-here are 7 ways to check and make sure you’re good to go:
Make a list of all your characters. Consider each one. Are they necessary to the story? If you don’t answer with an emphatic yes to each one on the list, it definitely suggests you might need to cut a character. The only characters you need in your script are the non-negotiable characters. The characters where there is absolutely no way they cannot be in the story.
Once you have your list of non-negotiable characters, consider whether you love them. If you have a resentment toward any characters, they are not completely developed and your script is not done.
You must sympathize with everyone in your story.
How well do you know your script? People advise writers to proofread their work—-that goes without saying. Have you read your entire script in the last 24 hours? When is the last time you read the entire thing? Often times I will read a script and you can tell the writer is not close to their own work. They haven’t read what they wrote! Misspelled words are obvious red flags that the writer hasn’t been reading their script. Beyond that, a writer who continues to read over what they have created discovers new ideas and better expressions of story.
Stay close to your pages.
I’m surprised by how many writers have never retyped their script. I mean actually opened a new file, and copied over your own script. Actually rewritten your script. Many writers work on their scripts within the draft, editing with their cursor, cutting and pasting. But writing is different than deleting with a key. Running your script through your instrument—-every word of the entire script—-allows you to subconsciously reconsider everything you’re committing to the page. Not only should you retype your entire script from scratch, you should do it more than once and however many times it is necessary.
Rewriting means re-writing.
People Give Up
Writers often get notes from others to help them with developing their scripts. If people continue to give you notes, your script isn’t ready for submission. It’s that simple. Yet how many times do writers push ahead and send their script off despite the fact that the people around them and even the writers themselves still have issues with their script? This seems obvious, but instead of ignoring the fact that people still spot issues in your script, consider accepting the feedback until people have nothing to say. It happens. Eventually people do fall in love with scripts, and it’s due to the hard work of the writer.
If you’re still getting notes, that’s a sign.
All Words Locked
You must be committed to every scene, every choice, every line, every word. If you read through your script and sense anything wobbly then you must hold back and continue to seek the best choice for your story. Writers can tell when one part of their script is not as strong as another. If this is the case, the script is not done. This requires self-awareness, patience, and humility. Writers must be able to honestly assess what they have created at all times. If you tell yourself the truth, you will recognize where changes need to be made.
Every word needs to be placed with full confidence.
All scripts should be read out loud before leaving the house for the market. Again, I’m surprised at how many writers have never heard their scripts read out loud by other people. Eventually your dialogue will be read out loud by actors, yes? How will you know if the words will work or not? Table readings allow a writer to see their work from a different perspective, providing a fresh insight into the clarity of the writing, the pacing of the story, and the integrity of the characters.
Table readings are mandatory for proper development.
Your Best All Time
You must believe this is your best script and will exceed everything you’ve ever written. This sentiment should be robust in your approach. Your own evaluation of your script will always be very helpful, and your confidence in your script must be very high. See where you are cutting corners with logic and believe you have a remarkable ending. If you can be honest with yourself and know something is not your best, celebrate your good fortune and go back to work.
What you feel about your work can be a very effective and practical guide to a successful career. Each of the 7 markers expressed here work when a writer can be honest with themself. If you want to abandon your script because of its problems, you will find the same problems with the next one. If you’re ready to face every challenge that writing an unforgettable script entails, you will prevail. Even better, you will receive the reward of a grateful audience who will never forget your hard work.
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