Script editor, script consultant, script doctor - there are a couple of names for it, but the point is that most screenwriters will want a little professional advice on their screenplays at some point. How does a writer find a screenplay editor they can trust? What things should you look for before hiring one? Today, I'm going to tell you how to find an editor to help take your screenplay to the next level!
Is Hiring a Script Editor Right For You and Your Work?
There are a few questions a writer should ask themselves before looking for someone to edit your story. Is it ready for editing? Is it at a place where you feel that it requires outside eyes to strengthen it? Is there more that you can do on your own before sending your screenplay out for editing? What are you hoping to get out of having someone edit it - do you want someone to help strengthen a single scene, or does all the content need a one-over?
Script editors can provide a variety of services for your story and its content. This can consist of notes that focus on character, story, or specific scenes, or something as thorough as a line edit where an editor literally goes line by line through your screenplay. Be aware that the cost will increase with the depth of screenwriting editing you're looking to receive.
Where do you find an editor for your screenplay?
First, know the definition of a script editor:
There's a difference between an editor and a reader. The term "script reader" refers to a literary agent who reads manuscripts submitted to them by writers seeking representation. A script editor's job involves going through every single scene and analyzing and possibly improving each element within it. While both terms refer to people who read screenplays, there is a big difference between reading and performing the work it takes to get the screenplay in tip-top shape.
Film and TV Script Editor Services
There are many professional services online that will assign someone to go over your screenplay. They often offer different tiers of editing with differing prices. Make sure you're not confusing coverage with editing or doctoring. There are a ton of variations of "hired help" in the film industry. Script coverage will provide you with a summary of sorts that gives you a better idea of where your story fits in the pack: does it need work, or would an assistant pass it up the chain of command to a producer? Paid script coverage will typically include a few pages of analysis and scores on your plot, characters, dialogue, and originality. A script doctor or editor, however, will actually go through your screenplay line by line and suggest or make changes and make sure the formatting is up to industry standard. It's important to research and read reviews to see how happy other writers have been with the coverage they've received. Some excellent coverage services include:
- Script Reader Pro
Script Reader Pro is made up of a professional team of screenwriters who have sold scripts themselves and can help you get your script into a more professional place. They pair you with readers according to your script’s genre. Script Reader Pro offers an array of services, including coverage, rewrites, and line edits. If you’re looking for a service that can provide intensive editing, I’d easily recommend Script Reader Pro.
With a 72-hour turnaround for script coverage, WeScreenplay is an excellent option if you find yourself trying to meet a deadline and need a general overview of how your screenplay is perceived. All of their readers are experienced in the film industry, having done reading services for production companies, managers, or agents for at least a year. SoCreate interviewed the company’s co-founder about why script coverage can be really valuable for even new writers. Their services start at $69 for four pages of notes and go up to $199 for more thorough feedback and analysis. WeScreenplay does not offer line by line notes.
- Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference
The renowned Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference also provides an excellent coverage service for writers. Their coverage includes a logline for your script, an assessment of your script’s market potential, and a constructive evaluation of your story.
- No BullScript Consulting
No BullScript Consulting is run by a former development executive, Danny Manus. He’ll give you a professional opinion and constructive notes on your script, and he offers phone consultations, first act consultations, second draft follow-ups, career coaching, brainstorming sessions, and full-on script editing and polishing. Manus also offers several webinars, all of which can found on his website. Want a sample of his advice? Manus is one of the featured interviewees on SoCreate’s YouTube channel!
A great option if you’re looking to save money is to trade editing services with other writers. If you have a group of writer friends, reach out and ask if anyone’s interested in exchanging scripts for editing!
Never overlook the helpfulness of having a good friend read your stuff! Even if your friends or family aren’t involved in the industry, they can still provide useful feedback and notice things you’ve missed in your writing. It’s always good to get fresh eyes on your projects.
How to Find a Script Editor You Can Trust
Not all script consultants, editors, and doctors are created equal. Here are five questions to ask yourself and the person or company you’re looking to hire:
Do you have any references I can contact?
What do you know about, and where did you learn about screenwriting? What is your background in the industry?
Do you have a solid understanding of structure, character development, and format?
Do you have an example of coverage or notes that you’ve given to other screenwriters? Make sure the feedback is constructive and helpful.
Do they make any other promises about getting your screenplay in front of industry contacts? This could be a scam, if so.
Hopefully, this blog was able to shed some light on screenplay editing and give you some ideas about how to go about finding an editor! Happy writing and good luck editing!