Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Screenwriting Forum at

Have a question about any aspect of screenwriting? While you can always e-mail me, other writers are a great resource. And a forum is a great way to reach them, especially if you live outside of L.A. Just visit to ask - or answer - questions related to scripts.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Striking a Balance Between "It's Good Enough" and "It's Not Perfect Yet"

It's funny how writers can be so drastically different when it comes to deciding if a script is ready to pitch. Some writers finish the second or third draft of their screenplay, and they rush to marketing, even though the product isn't ready yet. Other writers will work on a script for over a year and never send out one query, saying "it's just not perfect yet."

Somewhere between these two extremes lies the happy medium. You only get one chance to impress a pro reader with your script, so there really isn't such a thing as "it's good enough." These days, a killer concept executed in mediocrity generally won't get you past the first level of readers.

On the other hand, there's no such thing as a "perfect" script. Screenwriting is simply too subjective for the flawless script to really exist. At a certain point, you have to accept that you've done all you can do with a single script. Some readers may love it, while others may hate it. That's the nature of the medium. But unless you're really just writing for yourself, there comes a time when you have to decide your baby is polished and ready to pitch. If you're lucky, someone with money or clout will like it enough to give you notes that will ultimately change the script anyway.

There are two points I want to make during this post. The first deals with the idea that "someone is waiting on your script." The second has to do with how much time you devote to drafting your query letter.

Let's start with the first point. Sometimes, an agent, manager, producer or director really is waiting on your script and needs it yesterday. But that's not the norm for new writers. I can't tell you how many times I've had potential clients approach me with a rush job because "someone is waiting on my script."

What the writer often means is: "I mentioned the idea to a producer or rep who liked one of my other scripts, and they said they'd love to read it." This conversation happens all the time. But the producer or rep is not waiting on pins and needles for the final script. In reality, they generally have a large pile of scripts to read, and they are sincerely willing to add your script to the pile whenever you complete it. But they really don't care if it's a week, a month or a year because, once your conversation ended, they moved on to their very long "to do" list.

In the meantime, many writers rush the draft, decide "it's good enough," send it to the producer or rep, and then are surprised when the script is rejected. Bottom line: Don't submit a script when it's just "good enough" unless the producer or rep gave you a timeline and is so invested in the script that he or she is willing to give notes and continue to work with you.

Now let's take a moment to discuss the dreaded query letter. So many writers love the idea of writing a screenplay and then run screaming for the hills when it comes time to draft the marketing materials.

Here's the thing: If you have a killer query letter and a mediocre script, your script will get requested and read. If you have a mediocre query letter and a killer script, no one will ever get the chance to read your brilliant screenplay. You need to put a lot of energy into that query letter.

The query letter is not the place to explain every painstaking detail of your script. It's also not the time to basically scream that the script is brilliant and incredibly commercial and it's a can't-miss. Every single writer truly believes this about his or her script, and these statements do nothing to differentiate your pitch from the next person's.

The query letter is the time to let your concept sell itself. It is a sales tool, and it should be written as such. Keep it short — don't go over one page. When you think you're done, read your synopsis back to yourself and ask yourself a simple question: Would I feel the need to read this script? Your query letter must be compelling. That's it. It simply has to convince your target audience to request the script. Once requested, the script has to be able to sell itself. The query letter simply gets that read request.

If you have any questions about query letters, please contact me at or 954-603-6271. In the meantime, have fun writing!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Services For Beginning Screenwriters

Pitiful. That's all I can say. I haven't updated this blog in over a year.

In my defense, I've spent that year proofing, editing, writing and querying. So screenplays are always on my mind.

But I will be returning to regular blogging shortly to share the do's and don'ts that I'm seeing in scripts these days. In the meantime, I must admit that my return to this blog is just a marketing update for now.

Due to client requests, I have added two new services to Reader Ready for writers new to the format. Here they are:

Rekeying Service - $500
I will rekey your entire script, correcting formatting, spacing and word choice errors as well as paragraph structure. Story will not be affected or discussed. This service just ensures that your script has readability and flows easily. A waiver stating that I do not have any rights to the finished project will be provided with your script. Please contact me to discuss the software you want the final script in before scheduling or making payment.

Formatting Phone Consultations - $500
We'll divide your script into five sections and schedule five one-hour phone calls. Twenty-four hours prior to each scheduled call, you'll send me roughly 1/5 of your script. During the phone call, we'll review each page for word choice, clarity, spacing, writing style and formatting. Story will not be discussed. Think of this as Formatting 101.

For more information, please visit my web site at or email me at As always, have fun writing!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Miscellaneous Notes

It's been so long since I updated this blog, I almost forgot how to log in. But now that I've remembered, I'll try to be better about posting notes here.

It's been busy here at Reader Ready, thanks to all of the competition deadlines. I even managed to finish my own script and enter it into a few of the contests. Good luck to everyone who is now sitting on pins and needles waiting for the announcements!

While I was proofreading/editing all of those scripts, I tried to jot down some common issues I saw. Here are the top three issues I commented on in scripts during the months of April and May.

1. Use of O.S. A lot of clients "direct" their scenes by telling the reader when they are picturing a close up shot. For example, I saw this set up in a lot of scripts:


Marge, Scott and Ted attack a lasagna.

Ted crams an entire piece into his mouth.

Ted, you're gonna choke.

I understand why someone might try to say that Scott is O.S. The image of Ted cramming a piece of lasagna into his mouth seems to imply a close up. However, our header is INT. DINING ROOM, and Scott is still in the dining room. He hasn't physically left the scene, so under a wide shot, he would be speaking on camera. And the director might choose to use the wide shot of this scene so that the audience can see the other characters' disgust. So there's no need for O.S. in this type of scenario - it's the writer editing the film rather than advancing the story.

2. Sentence structure. A very common sentence structure I've run across is:

Marge looks at Ted, smiling.

This sentence could be misconstrued. The writer means to imply that Marge is smiling, but it could just as easily be Ted who's sporting the grin. Why not write:

Marge, smiling, looks at Ted.

3. Use of CONTINUEDS. This is a setting in many software programs. Some writers have turned it off completely, which makes it hard to follow dialogue that jumps from the bottom of one page to the top of the next, particularly if the character name setting is also turned off. On the other hand, there's no reason to use the CONT'D function anymore when a character speaks, performs an action and then speaks again, such as in:

I wanted to tell you earlier.

Mike grabs Patty's hands in his.

But I was afraid.

Many software programs have a default setting where Mike's second line would say CONT'D. However, that usage isn't necessary.

One last note before I end this blog: I've added/changed some pricing options, so please visit for the new choices when you're ready to book your next slot. And if you don't see a price listed, please contact me at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Resources For The Screenwriter

There are thousands of resources available to screenwriters. But in speaking to some clients lately, who are relatively new to screenwriting, I realize these resources may be hard to find if you don't know to look for them in the first place.

Below, I've listed a sampling of my favorite sites. But the list is not comprehensive - not even close. So I encourage my readers to e-mail me other sites that they find worthwhile, and I'll add them to the list.

As a word of warning, some of the forums can contain some mean-spirited posts. However, I know a lot of wonderful, helpful writers who also visit these sites, so try to wade through the bad to find the good. I've made great friends on these forums, and I've received some really insightful advice into my own scripts along the way.

FORUMS (AND, IN SOME CASES, REVIEW SWAPS) (click the link to The Artful Forum)

PODCASTS - My favorite analyst, Pilar Alessandra, does a weekly podcast that I highly recommend


RESEARCH- There are fees involved to use these resources.

ONLINE ACCESS TO PRODUCERS/MANAGERS/AGENTS - Please realize there are no guarantees with these services, but these are two that have been helpful to me. You do have to pay for these services.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Write Every Day

This post is meant as much for me as it is for you. I have a confession to make: In the last five weeks, I've written only 10 pages of a new script.

I have wonderful excuses - Reader Ready scripts that needed to be proofed, PTO obligations that needed to be met, children that needed all sorts of attention (chauffeuring and homework help and breakfast and dinner and game-playing and, of course, love and my undivided attention). I'm sure you have a long list of wonderful excuses too.

And yet, I shouldn't let these everyday activities keep me from writing at least a few pages a day. It's very simple: Writers write. I love sitting down to a blank screen and creating a new scene - a new world - new characters. Finishing a scene gives me a sense of satisfaction that few other activities can provide. But, somehow, I've written only 10 pages in the last five weeks. And I'll bet some of you can say the same.

I'll cut myself some slack - I've read scripts, and I've queried. I've discussed screenwriting on related web sites. I think I even wrote a blog or two in there somewhere. So I haven't forgotten my passion for writing. But I have forgotten to write, and I can't forgive myself for that.

So, here's my challenge to all of us: After you spend the day fulfilling your obligations for others, end it by writing at least one scene in a screenplay for yourself. It may not be your best, but that's why rewrites and edits exist. The first step is to get it down on paper - well, more likely, to get it up on the computer monitor.

At some point today, before we put the puppy in his crate for bed (how could I forget about him - and my husband - in my opening list of excuses?), I will take a few "me" minutes and knock out the next scene in my script. I hope you will too. If you take the time to read this blog, then you're a writer, and - writers write. At the end of the day, it's just that simple. So write something. And, as always, have fun while you're writing!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Getting Back To Basics

OK, so this week's post isn't going to discuss screenwriting - exactly. I just thought I'd take a minute to talk about some of the basic proofreading errors that I see repeatedly. Hopefully, a few tips will make these easier for all writers to catch in their own work.


It's so easy to use the wrong form of this word. And while I don't want to list all the dictionary definitions for their usage, here are a few tips to avoid some of the more common errors:

They're is used when you are shortening "they are." If you use "they're," read the sentence back to yourself and substitute "they are." If it doesn't make sense, you've used the wrong spelling.

There is generally used when you are referring to a place - a geographic location. For instance, if "Jeff and Bob went there," this is the spelling. The easiest way to remember this - it has the word "here" in it. So think locations and geography (although there are some other usages for this word).

Their means that the item belongs to or pertains to people (or aliens or dogs or other characters you've created). It's "their house," "their party," "their car." Their is generally used when referring to "they" or "them" in some way.


A lot of writers seem to forget about "too." They use "to" for everything.

But "too" does have its place. I could copy the dictionary meaning, but I think the easiest thing to do is to show you examples where "too" applies:

It's too much.
It's too easy.
He eats too often.
I wanna go too.
I'm clever too.

So, basically, "too" means in addition or to an excess. It can also take the place of "also" sometimes, as in "I wanna go too."


I get it. I know a lot of you want to close your quotation marks around the specific word or sentence while ignoring the following punctuation. This is one of those grammar rules that I just don't understand. And yet, when you're using a period or comma in conjunction with a closing quotation mark, you need to put the punctuation first.

For example:
She said I was too "wordy."
She said I was too "wordy," and then she edited my entire page.


When you review your scripts, watch out for those passive verbs. Whenever possible, change your sentence structure so you can make the verb active. It really does make for a better read.

"Sally is walking toward Bob" becomes "Sally walks toward Bob." Or better yet, "Sally skips toward Bob."

"Joe is caught off guard by Tom's comments" becomes "Joe whirls around, surprised at Tom's comments."


It's so easy to miss mistakes when we proofread our own writing. As writers, we get so close to the material, our eyes sometimes see what we meant to write instead of what we actually did type.

When you review your work for errors, try to shake up the way you read. You can read your scenes in reverse order, from the end of the script to the beginning. Since you won't be able to hone in on plot this way, you'll see the words differently. You can also catch on-the-nose dialogue and flat scenes by reading in reverse.

Another way to catch mistakes is to read your script word-by-word instead of sentence-by-sentence. Or, you can slowly read the script aloud. Try to find a method that works for you and lets you see the words as you really did type them.

That's it for this week. I hope these small reminders and tips were helpful. Have fun writing!