In the first article, Marketing Yourself, we looked at establishing an online presence for you and your work. So hopefully you’ve now got your new website all set up and ready to go. And you’re all over Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter like ants at the proverbial picnic table…
So what’s next on your journey towards screenwriting world domination?
Well, you could use some of the great resources out there to get coverage (aka, feedback, notes etc) on your cinematic baby. Rewriting and polishing it until it shines, for that day when you get that oh so precious email: “send us a copy of your script…”
As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So you want that script to be perfect.
Okay, so you’re not going to get professional coverage without paying for it (and you may wish to pay for coverage at some point).
But there are some great places to get your screenplays read without shelling out your limited dough, complete with feedback and notes.
Below you’ll find a list of sites where gifted amateur screenwriters – and the occasional pro – congregate and provide useful recommendations.
A few words of caution before we dive in: it’s worth pointing out that you’re putting your work (your baby!) online for others to see and comment on.
1) Make sure it’s copyrighted and registered somewhere – through the Library of Congress, WGA, WriteProtect, Write Vault etc. And no, not everyone’s out to steal your script or idea. But, as in all walks of life, there are occasionally some bad apples lurking around. Somewhere.
2) Bear in mind: on the net, free expression reigns supreme. Barring any board limits and moderations, people can and will voice their opinions as they see fit. Feedback is usually respectful, but inevitably some trolling and flaming occurs.
3) Check your grammar and spellen. (Um, “spelling”) And then check it again! Readers quickly get distracted with error strewn scripts… and often leave choice comments before they move onto other things. Besides, if you can’t be bothered to run an easy spell check and read through the pages, why in the world would you expect a stranger to do so. For free?!? (An extra tip, if grammar isn’t your thing, there’s some online help… check out Grammarly or Ginger for example.)
4) Make sure the screenplay’s formatted correctly, using screenwriting software to ensure the basics are right. Final Draft like to think they are the standard, but they’re bit pricey for a beginner. For the cash strapped, Trelby is free, CeltX basic free, as is the web version of WritersDuet. At the more modest end of paid are programs like FadeIn. Whatevcer you use, make sure your formatting’s up to snuff as it removes reader distraction.
5) Save or upload your docs as PDFs. People don’t like seeing screenplays written in Word. It screams amateur no matter how well formatted it is.
6) The vast majority of the sites we’ll look at work on – and appreciate – reciprocity. So if you ask for a read, make darned well sure you give thoughtful ones in return.
7) Consider all comments and feedback. No script is so perfect that it can’t be improved on. That said, don’t forget it’s your script. So use the recommendations to improve and polish your work. Not change it into something you don’t like.
8) Don’t limit yourself to asking for script feedback. These sites are the online homes of tons of helpful fellow writers. Reach out to them with other questions as well. How to get through a tricky piece of writing, logline reviews, etc. You name it. People will have thought about it, and will be willing to share.
Now for the online resources themselves:
Simply Scripts – http://www.simplyscripts.com/
Kind of an obvious choice, given it’s where I cut my teeth and continue to be active. But it’s a fact that bears repeating: the SimplyScripts discussion board is populated by a bunch of talented writers, most of whom are happy to help fellow scribes out. The site has two primary sections for getting script exposure: 1) A general discussion board for unproduced works – divided by features/shorts and genres, 2) The script showcase, where selected short scripts get additional exposure through in-depth reviews. You submit to both via SimplyScripts submission form
Reddit has a few different areas (fondly known as sub-reddits) for writing, and two or three that focus on screenwriting in particular. I’ve found that the link provided above is the most suitable one for your needs. The feedback is usually decent. Not as good or in depth as SS – and there’s the occasional troll or flame war. But you’re on-line. You should be used to that!
Writing Forums – writingforums.org/workshop/scripts-and-screenplays/
A new one on me discovered whilst researching this article, but from what I can see it is a good general writing forum with a dedicated screenplay section that seems fairly quiet but scripts look like they get commented on.
Shooting the Short – scriptrevolution.com/shootin-the-shorts
Now part of the Script Revolution (SR) site. If you have you scripts listed on SR then there’s an option when you upload to have your script reviewed – IF the reviewing panel like it enough. This is not really for first drafts, rather the polished final article looking for some final thoughts and extra exposure.
IndieTalk – http://www.indietalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=43
A movie making Forum with a relatively healthy screenwriting section. If you ask for script feedback, you’ll generally get 5-10 responses which is pretty decent.
AbsoluteWrite – http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=12
A broader forum that contains a wealth of info on a number of writing specialties (including Screenwriting, of course.) It’s worth a look – but it’s a lot less active than it used to be with very few recent posts.
Stage 32 – http://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting
It’s a little like Facebook or LinkedIn, but specifically for film makers. Each discipline has it’s own “Lounge” for discussion and online interaction. There, you’ll find a variety of exchanges: requests for feedback on scripts, loglines and more. As is true everywhere, there’s a ton of opinions on S32… so please remember Rule #5. It’s your script. Take constructive criticism and value it. But remain true to your vision.
Zoetrope – http://www.zoetrope.com
Yep, Copolla’s site! You need to join officially. But then you can post scripts and get them read. And you do need to read scripts in return. This is one site that I’ve limited experience with but still seems reasonably active, and it’s not limited to screenwriting, you can get feedback on fiction too.
CoverflyX – https://www.coverfly.com/x/
Part of the Coverfly competitions and tracking portal is this new service that hooks you up with other writing peers so that you can exchange notes. Not used it personally but it’s Coverfly so worth a look.
Talentville – www.talentville.com/
A writing community where you can join and have your work reviewed. As I understand it you can get one script reviewed for free, but beyond that it is a paid membership you will need which is $40 a year I think (with optional extras).
There are a variety of Screenwriting groups on FB, none that I’ve found are specifically dedicated to script feedback but you may find some willing and friendly souls willing to take a look at your scripts.
You may be looking enough to have a regional forum or writer’s group, online or in person, that would allow you to get script feedback and swap notes. Just Google “Writer’s groups in XXX” or “Screenwriting groups in XXX” where XXX is your location… you may find something nearby that can help improve your script.
Lastly, there are a number of Screenwriting groups on Facebook, feedback on these can be a little hit and miss but you will often see members post a few pages for review.
Well, that’s enough sites to start with. If I’ve missed any then please let me know and I’ll update the article.
In the meantime, start digging around in these sites – they’re all essential tools to improve your script, your craft… and provide valuable networking opportunities too!