In the last post, we discussed the first to important points about Reading Between the Lines; understanding what the person reading your script wants – what they are looking for. Second, why are large changes being proposed to your script; it could be for budgeting or casting changes. Now, we are going to understand the final two points that will help put you in the right direction when you are working on your script.
The third point is to be wary of changes in the dialogue that change the tone of the movie. When Pulp Fiction came out, studios were looking for snappy dialogue. While clever exchanges are important, they have to drive the story forward. Would A Serious Man have been effective if it had the zesty exchanges of Juno? Most likely, no.
There is a difference between feedback aimed at improving the existing material versus using your screenplay as a means of hopping on the latest trend. Each outcome provides two different results. Whenever you receive criticism, ask yourself if the feedback you received is in alignment with your story and its message. This leads us into the final point.
Does the reader understand the message in your script? Many times, the feedback might be based on a poor read of your material; or it may be that you didn’t make your message clear enough. I had a script that I was shopping around and many of the changes seemed off base – they had little to do with the existing story. After some back and forth I asked if they understood what the story was about – their answer was different than what I intended. I reworked the screenplay in a few places to make the goal of the protagonist clearer.
Reading between the lines to understand what other people want out of your script versus what you want your story to be is a very narrow path. In the end, the decision is yours to make. But, never be afraid to put your work out there. You may just have that “A-Ha!” moment based on good feedback, that catapults your story to a higher level. That is what puts you on the path of winning your next screenwriting competition.
You’ve mastered the First Act of your script, and have captured your viewer. The Second Act has kept them riveted to your story. Don’t fail them now. Finish Big and Leave ‘Em Breathless! The best scripts are like great sex. It leaves you gasping for air, desperate for more and it’s over with far too quickly. Don’t you want the person reading your script so addicted they can’t stop thinking of you?