Reader Questions

April 17th, 2012 by

I’ve had several people inquire about the next session of reader questions, so why not now? If you have questions about screenwriting, big or small, the craft or the business, I’m happy to provide my two cents. And often the comments from members of the GITS community provide additional insight.

Before you post a question, you can check out this: Links to over 200 screenwriting questions from GITS’ posts in the past that I’ve answered.

If you have a question, feel free to post in comments. Or if you’d prefer to remain anonymous, you can email me as well.

Screenwriting is a big, crazy world, and can be confounding at times. Here’s a chance to pose any issues or conundrums you might be facing.

14 thoughts on “Reader Questions

  1. Is there a website or database somewhere with a list of grants available for screenwriters? I know of the Nicholl contest, but what other ones? I absolutely love writing, and I feel like if I just had more time to work I could be so much better, but I gotta pay the bills!

  2. Hello. Long time reader here. I can’t remember where I saw this, but not too long ago someone had put a logline on the title page of their spec script, right under the title, and someone else said that’s a big no-no. Of course, I thought, what kind of fool would put the logline on the title page! But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t figure out what was SO wrong with it. I know it’s not the industry standard, but I’d be curious to know if it would be such a turnoff that you’d lose the reader before they even opened the script. What if it’s a killer logline? Could it actually increase your chances of getting a read? Any readers out there with any experience in this? Do you ever see spec scripts with the logline printed on the title page? For the record, I do not put the logline on my scripts title pages. Just glitter glue and drawings of unicorns.

    1. Hey Teddy, I had actually seen this done on a professional script. I can’t remember the title, but it caused me to pause when I saw it.

      I think there’s two ways of looking at it, neither right or wrong:

      a) I sometimes prefer not knowing anything about a script when I sit down to read – I want the script to do all the talking on its own.

      b) on the flip side, one of the problems writers have is communicating what’s in their head and translating it onto the page. So a log line, from their point of view, helps to act as a barometer in that regard.

      The few times I’ve had people actually offer to pay me to give notes on their script, I always ask them if there’s anything in particular they’re trying to communicate first. Knowing this helps me to help the writer to achieve their goals rather than having myself provide a bunch of frivolous suggestions about what I think they’re trying to accomplish.

    2. BillieJeanVK says:

      Hi Teddy. You might want to take a look at one of Doug Richardson’s blog posts about talking to agents about appearance of scripts. http://dougrichardson.com/2012/dead-on-arrival
      It doesn’t talk about loglines specifically but I think it applies to you question.

    3. Interesting… what about putting a quotation on the cover page? Something that hints or is a humorous adjunct to what the story is about.

    4. Malibo Jackk says:

      You might take note that some script contests will ask you not to include your log line on the title page. Not sure why the objection.

  3. Kevin Ngo says:

    Maybe not a question worthy as the subject of an entire blog post, but I was wondering what peoples’ thoughts are on purchasing basic feedback/coverage (4-5 pages) from screenwriting contests.

    Costing anywhere from $50-$100 (on top of the entry fee), is it worth it? Does the quality of feedback differ from one contest to another? I ended up buying coverage for my script from Scriptapalooza and Page International for this year’s contests, and I do believe they only give you your feedback after they start announcing results.

    1. I never have and I never would. Furthermore, I think it’s unethical for contests to be doing this.

      Let me explain.

      If there are 2,000 contestants (scripts) into a particular contest, they should all receive the same treatment. It’s bad enough that what it mostly boils down to is the subjective opinion of a reader, regardless of how objective they try to make scoring criteria, but now those who are willing to pay for feedback have essentially put the reader into an uncompromising position.

      Why?

      Because now they’ve actually got to think about what they’ve just read, which means they’re going to put more time and effort into the process – particularly up front.

      Let me put it this way: when you were a student, did you pay attention to every lecture given every single day as if there was going to be a pop quiz on it right afterwards?

      Probably not.

      But if you were told so going into the lecture, the knowledge probably would impact the level of your attention span for that particular day.

      I know there will be readers who will argue up and down that it doesn’t impact their grading whatsoever, but the bottom line is it has the potential for putting those who don’t choose this option at a disadvantage, in my opinion.

      Let me throw another tidbit out there. Last year I stumbled upon a blog from a contest reader who claimed they had read – and I don’t remember the particular numbers – a few hundred scripts over the course of two months or so and then selected ten from those to advance.

      Figuring an hour and a half to read each script – which I believe is reasonable – this person would have been reading 8 hours every day, seven days a week. Even if they were a quick reader, I still don’t like the math.

      Finally, consider who it is you’re getting feedback from. In most cases, you really don’t know. Some of the people who charge slightly more for coverage services are actually readers of the contest’s finalists, so if you’re not willing to pay them for their services and they’re reading the supposedly best offerings of that particular contest, think of who your money is going to if it’s a first round reader.

      I’m not trying to harp on readers or those who provide notes in general here, I’m just trying to help you make more informed, educated decisions as to how you choose to spend your money. Do some research on various services, ask for opinions – word of mouth is probably the best approach.

      1. If you’re paying money to enter, then at the very least you should get a scorecard from those competitions.

  4. Steven Enloe says:

    Does anyone know of a good source for script readers’ coverage of recently produced scripts?

    And a site with lots of attempts at formulating loglines for recent films?

    BTW Scott has a great series on coverage, loglines etc. you can find if you do a Google site search.

  5. As a writer who uses a pen name, would it be wise to use the same pen name for scripts, even if the scripts are in a different genre than what I’m writing now. I’m writing paranormal stories now.

  6. Hey Scott —
    Browsed the questions list and didn’t see this one, but if I missed it or there’s something related that answers it, feel free to direct me there instead…

    Does querying managers, agents, etc, hurt your chances of getting read by them in the future if they say no to you now?

  7. I’m writing an action/black comedy that I think might be better as a straight up action piece.

    Thing is, my characterizations and 1st inciting incident on pg 10 (my protagonist is told that at 40 she has to retire because she’s too old for the job she loves: she’s a govt. killer) is probably more suited to the black comedy genre.

    How does one go about transitioning pieces like this from one genre to another?

  8. Zach Jansen says:

    I’m in talks with a director/producer for him to option a script of mine and hire me to write an adaptation (of a novel he has rights to). He’s produced a few shorts — including one from a script I wrote — so I’m not worried about his legitimacy, but I’m not sure what to ask for in terms of compensation, for the option and for hire work. These will be low-budget films (maybe a million dollars at the high end), so I don’t want to appear greedy, but I do want to get a fair share.

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