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Monday, June 30, 2008

Top Ten Things Readers LOVE

The Wave-inatrix read three scripts this last weekend. Usually I try not to work on weekends but the last time that worked out was...let me see...oh that's right, there was a weekend in March that time. As it turns out, this weekend, all three scripts I read were delightful reads. So that led me to come up with a positive list of what readers (okay or maybe just me) love when we read a script. These are somewhat obvious, no-brainers and yet you'd be surprised how difficult these are to achieve:

1. Originality
2. Voice
3. Fresh, complex characters
4. Tight structure/page count
5. Pithy, effective action lines
6. A compelling narrative; pages that flow
7. Organic conflict, building tension
8. Resonant, universal theme
9. A provocative beginning
10. An emotionally satisfying ending

For more information on each numbered item, simply search The Rouge Wave for:

action lines
the first ten pages

And now, a topic within a topic, and I'll call this Hands Across the Sea:

The Script Department is all about intentionality and honoring what is possible for writers and for entertainment. I received an email from a young writer in Romania who is feeling quite isolated when it comes to creative community, feedback and resources. Slight detour, bear with me: At the Great American Pitch Fest, The Script Department, as is our tradition, gave away one free basic coverage to the winner of the guess-the-number-of-brads-in-the-bowl competition. The winner just notified me that he can't have his script done on time to take advantage of this free coverage and wants to offer it to someone else who'd like to use it. This is a no-brainer for me: the young gal in Romania. I wondered if, in addition, there is a Rouge Waver who might be interested in being connected to this ambitious and creative young woman as a mentor/pen pal to provide guidance and encouragement in addition to the free notes she is about to receive? If you are interested in this we-are-all-one-good-karma mentorship, please email me HERE and I will put you in touch with Marina.

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Anonymous said...

Julie, it sounds like a good premise for a SP, RomCom or Drama. Possible a Thriller? A beautiful Romanian girl looking to connect to Hollywood? Anything could happen here;)

PS. just a fictional thought, as you can see I'm just confused from your post. First you said it's a 'He", then you said it's a girl from Romania. I said a Thriller with a gender-bender twist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie Gray,

I thought readers are called Coverage Providers.Okay lets call them Readers. Don't readers work for the studios or the producers? Readers are constantly looking for a specific script for their Boss(es).

If I send my script to a Reader by ramdom and that reader has no experience with for example, crime screenplays or Soprano-like scripts, then that reader will give my script a poor review and . This has happened to me and I appealed and got a second coverage from a Reader with experience in my genre.

The simple trick is to find a reader that enjoy reading your kind of scripts. There are tons of Readers out there that publish their BIOS.

Before my script goes to a reader, I don't need to know the readers' name.........but I have to know his or her BIO. Another example, if he or she specializes in sports-related scripts, then I will not use that person for my script coverage.

Since I'm paying for over $250.00 for coverages, I have the right to manage my destiny.

It's a money game. Those that have the money call the shots and control their own destiny.

Julie Gray said...

No, no, it's a she. The he referred to is the writer who won a free coverage from us. This Romanian writer is most definitely a woman in need of a mentor.

Julie Gray said...

Coverage Providers - LOL! Uh, I have not heard that nomenclature. We're readers. Readers work for all sorts of people; studios, producers, managers, script coverage services, competitions.

If you go to The Script Department, you will see that we do provide bios of each and every reader.

I would never hire a reader who had a prejudice toward certain genres and couldn't provide helpful notes if they weren't into that genre. That's a terrible faux pas. Readers for specific production companies do have to understand the mandate of the company they are working for. So if you send a SAW type script to Bedford Falls - whether I like that genre or not, my job is to weed it out because that's not what BF is looking for.

Anonymous said...

So Julie,

When I use your coverage service can I pick which reader I want to read my script?

You know, I think that's a fair question.

I went to see WALL-e this Sunday. We all liked it because this is the stuff we like. Birds of a feather flock together.

Julie Gray said...

That's the point of having the bios on the site, Anonymous. So you can choose :)

PJ McIlvaine said...

Anonymous, I totally get your point. It makes no sense to have a reader who is unfamiliar with the genre you've written about to give credible notes. I can't speak for other coverage services, but at TSD you do have the option to "pick" the reader you feel best suits you, but as Julie so aptly pointed out, readers are supposed to be familiar with all genres and be capable of giving useful notes.

Just to give you an example, I recently had "notes" from a reader at a management company. There is no other way to say it, they were just dreadful. When I questioned the reader, he admitted that he was unfamiliar with my script's genre (probably one of the hottest selling genres going). Now how in the world was I supposed to take his notes seriously?

Anonymous said...

Hi PJ,

You are the true Script Doctor and coach. I look forward to using your services and The Script Department in the future.

Four years ago, I paid big money for a coverage with some LA hotshot company.

I listened to the coverage and changed my script.

Just 3 months ago, I realized I cannot fake this anymore.

I went in my garage retrieved all my original drafts, old laptops and computers. I came to the realization that I am truly destined to write in one style. I will only write in the style that I am good in and enjoy.

I can only market a script that gave happiness while writing.

I cannot and will not fake my life. I am happy with my style. It's the only thing that makes me write. Some people love my script while others hate it.

Coverage Providers must understand this. So if they want to contribute to my future or to the future of screenwriting....try to connect with the writer's strength.

Happily ever after.

PJ McIlvaine said...

Anonymous, Godspeed and good writing! This is the way it's supposed to be. Yes, it may be harder, but at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and your work. There's that old adage: Hollywood wants the same thing...but different. That's where voice and tone come into play. Without that, you're just a dime a dozen.