The Helpful Reviewer

What turns readers off your script

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Before submitting your script to contests, festivals, managers, agents, or producers, you need to make sure it’s in top shape. In the last blog post we discussed the importance of getting coverage on your script, and how that can help take your script to the next level.

So what are some areas you need to take a look at, to make sure you’re not turning readers off your script?

  1. Premise: Is your premise unique and fresh, or is it something we’ve seen millions of times before? If the premise has been done before, do you have an original take on it?
  2. Characters: Are the characters interesting and original, with unique voices, strong arcs, and clear goals?
  3. Protagonist: Is the protagonist clearly leading the action, and not just reacting to what happens to him/her? Does he/she have a real goal and arc?
  4. Antagonist: Is the antagonist a real character, with hopes, needs, and wants, or just a stereotype?
  5. Structure: Is the structure clear, with turning points that move the story forward, and that relate to the protagonist’s arc/goal? Does the story start off right away, or does it take 30 pages to really know what the story is about?
  6. Dialogue: Is the dialogue too straightforward or expository, with no subtext? Does it sound like real people talk? Does it show character, or do all characters sound alike?
  7. World: Is the world of the story well defined, interesting, and does it help to reveal and show tone and genre?
  8. Scenes: Are all scenes necessary, with real conflict in them?
  9. Formula writing: Is the script just following a formula, or does it feel fresh and new?
  10. Conflict: Is there a true central conflict that has several obstacles, twists, and turns? Do the events make sense? Do the characters act in a realistic way, or do they do things just to fit the plot?

Make sure you’ve gone through this checklist before submitting your script, as you normally only get one chance for someone to read your script. You want it to be as perfect as possible. Also remember to make sure to proofread it, and properly format it, as those small things also affect the way your script is evaluated. Seeking out help from a professional script consultant or script doctor can also be a great way to make sure your script is ready. Here at Story Data we offer consulting services that can help get your script in the best shape possible!

Cody Smart

Cody Smart


Cody is an independent writer and script doctor from Santiago, Chile. She attended the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she double majored in English Literature and Linguistics, with a minor in Dramatic Literature. She moved to L.A. and got her MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, Universal Studios location, while at the same time working at Sony Pictures as a reader and story analyst. She also received two Certificates from UCLA, in Development and Producing for Film and TV.

Aside from her years of experience as a studio reader, she’s a judge for multiple script and film competitions, has written some award-winning short films and feature film scripts, she’s been working as a script analyst and doctor for years helping writers take their scripts to the next level, and is currently the head of the coverage department at Story Data.