Today my class of 15 awesome advanced scriptwriting students and I read two scripts from a project I'm working on. We were joined by the enthusiastic and gregarious director--my creative partner in the venture. It was awesome hearing the characters come to life.
It's not the first time I've pulled together readers for my scripts. I've hosted living room readings of my pirate script with other writers and attorneys from my husband's former law firm, even providing grog and Pirate Booty. I also invited a gaggle of moms over one morning after school drop off so we could read one of my family scripts as we sat and ate brunch.
I've been helped by, and later turned around and helped the NH Film Office pull together readings of both my own and others' screenplays by seasoned local actors before an audience. And I always require my classes to read aloud each script written by students in the class. It's a fantastic way for the writer to hear what works and what doesn't quite yet convey the story.
It doesn't have to be a formal setting, nor a reading by professional actors to help you get a sense of what's working in your screen (or stage) story. But I do highly recommend hosting a reading--or finding a good friend to host one on your behalf--as one necessary step in the creative writing and rewriting process.
Recipe for a Fabulous Home Reading of a Script:
- Thin, solid three-ring binders
- Script for each reader, preferably with their part highlighted within
- Comfy seats
- Bright enough lights to read by
- Snacks & drinks (genre appropriate makes it that much more fun; if it takes place around a baseball park, you might include franks & cold beer)
- Optional: party favors (again, genre or script specific is more fun; for my family script - THE MIRROR PROPHECY - I sent every reader home with a decorative compact mirror in the shape of a UFO, since the story took place on several planets)
- Time for your readers to discuss the script afterwards; this is your opportunity to LISTEN. Don't get defensive, just listen to what your readers have to say. Often there are several nuggets of invaluable ideas that work their way into your revisions.
- And finally: enough time to read the script in its entirety, to take a break part way through, to mingle, to eat, to visit, and to hear feedback.