To be considered for film development, all screenplay submissions are read and evaluated by a reader or story analyst who produces a “coverage” report.
The coverage report includes a summary of the script, the reader’s comments as to the screenplay’s weaknesses and strengths, and ranking of various elements such as storyline, structure, dialogue, characterization, and concept. Each script is assigned a grade of “pass”, “consider” or “recommend”.
If your script receives a “consider” or “recommend” then your screenplay moves up the ladder to a producer, agent, director, or development executive for further consideration. Less than 1% of spec scripts receive a “recommend.
Here are 3 tips to ensure your screenplay stays out of the rejection pile:
1. Create an Emotional Experience
Film is a visual medium and screenplays adhere to that structure, but successful screenwriters are always aware they are writing a script that will be read. They never forget that the reader is their first audience. They respect the interplay between writer and reader. As a writer, you are providing an emotional experience for the reader. Each scene should be crafted for emotional impact. You must understand how your written word is experienced emotionally. Is the reader feeling scared, sad, curious, anxious, excited… or just bored?
2. Keep the Reader Engaged
If the reader wanders off while reading your script or is pulled “out of the story”, you’ve lost him. Your goal is to make the reader lose track of time, to feel compelled to turn the next page, to be completely absorbed by your story. Hook the reader with an exciting concept, riveting characters, and escalating tension and conflict.
3. Make a Connection
Readers want to be participants in the story, not just bystanders. Successful scripts (and films) have universal appeal because readers and viewers can relate to the story, characters, and theme. None of us have experienced life on Tattooine or flying aboard the Millennium Falcon – but Star Wars and the character of Luke Skywalker resonates with readers and viewers because we all know the desire to break free from our daily life, to explore outside of our limited confines, to move from childhood to adulthood, and to prove we can succeed. Can a reader identify with your story? Does your material resonate and connect?