script doctor services: we will analyze & cure your movie or TV screenplay’s ills

Script doctor services: We will analyze
& cure your movie or TV screenplay’s ills.


Whoops! Your screenplay is broken. Or bloated. Or bleeding. Or incoherent. Or was ripped and thrown against a wall by a PO’d producer. Send it to us for expert script doctor services. Just think of us as word and story surgeons — it’ll be looking fine and you won’t find scars anywhere! Call Ghostwriters Central toll-free at 888-743-9939 10am to 6pm Pacific Time. Or send us a text message at 818-636-4173, we will reply right away. You can be assured of expert, prompt, conscientious and affordable service.


FAMOUS QUOTE ABOUT SCREENPLAY REWRITING:

“Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity.”
–Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting.


By- Daniel Scherrer

Writing a screenplay is kind of like building a one of a kind, custom piece of furniture. In the dark. While receiving essential parts periodically in the mail, without warning. And then not receiving any for weeks. While your helpful significant other or helpful friends helpfully suggest trashing your project and driving to Ikea.

It’s not really like this. It just feels that way sometimes. Sometimes you feel invincible, like Spielberg entering a local film festival. But the frustrating, damnable thing about screenwriting is that when it works, it’s not always clear This doctor is about to remove your spleen...or fix your script.why. And when it doesn’t work, it’s not always clear why. It’s as much an art as it is a science. And most writers are either artists or scientists. It’s a rare thing for someone to be both.

You can’t see the picture if you’re in the frame

You know the damn thing doesn’t quite work. But why is it so hard to figure out the problem? Easy. You are too close to the script to see it. Like one of those optical illusion paintings with all of the dots – if you look at it just right, you can see a lighthouse. Except you have a permanent blindspot. Every creative decision, every moment, every line of dialogue was birthed by you. And it blinds you to its flaws. Like the way your Mom loved you through your breakdancing phase. You just can’t bear to admit the truth. Your precious child moves like a giraffe on ice skates.

The myth of the “solitary genius”

But, isn’t screenwriting meant to be done alone? The cliché of the screenwriter, hunched over his keyboard, eating poorly, drinking well, and shunning civil society is a well-worn archetype. It is also unrealistic and rarely ever true. Modern screenwriting, especially at the professional level, is highly collaborative and benefits from other perspectives, fresh ideas and joint problem solving. It is ego that tells us we should never have to ask for help. Like when you give in and buy the damn dresser from IKEA, and insist that you don’t need the instructions, or the manufacturer support line, or any input from your idiot brother Steve. And as a result, you shed the last of your dignity and sanity in a symphony of expletives. Seriously, I think they drilled the holes too far apart.

 When to throw in the towel and call the doctor

You have some of the basic structure in place. It’s starting to look like a screenplay. Except it won’t stand up on its own. And there are an awful lot of big pieces left over. Is that normal? Face it. You are in over your head.

Or, you have a script that is good. Maybe even very good. But there is something missing. Some of the big emotional moments fall flat. Maybe the dialogue doesn’t snap. Or crackle. Or pop. There are no instant classic lines. Nothing that jumps of the page. No You can’t handle the truth! No Royale with cheese. No Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. No one is going to walk out of your film quoting, or meme-ing, or even remembering your words. Face it. You need help.

Even the best need help sometimes

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to the best of them. Look at the highly publicized script rewrites on the recent Star Wars projects. The truth is, all films undergo this kind of tinkering. The truth is, script doctors have worked on many of your favorite films. You just don’t know about it. Because they usually work uncredited. It’s an industry courtesy to the screenwriters. Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show, Donnie Brasco) equates script doctoring to “being the closer in baseball… coming in at the ninth inning and throwing your fastball to three batters and leaving”. The best part is, when the script doctor comes in to close, you still get credit for the win.

Some famous examples of script doctoring include:

  • Carrie Fisher: The former Princess Leia turned author/screenwriter punched up the scripts for Lethal Weapon 3, Hook and Sister Act, among others.
  • Robert Towne: The man who wrote Chinatown rewrote the script for The Godfather, including the tomato garden scene between Al Pacino and Malon Brando.
  • Aaron Sorkin: Before The West Wing and The Social Network, Sorkin worked on The Rock, Enemy of the State and Schindler’s List.

Why a script doctor?

Script doctors are seasoned artist/scientists, who bring fresh eyes, new perspectives, and a deep knowledge of visual storytelling devices to make sure your script delivers on its original promise. They are brought in to rewrite or polish an existing script. Maybe the structure isn’t working. Or the pacing is off, or the transitions are jarring. Possibly the themes are getting lost. Maybe the dialogue is landing with a thud. Or not landing at all. Your production team doesn’t need to labor fruitlessly, you can reach out to a proven professional to address these issues.

A professional script doctor helps to crystallize your vision on the page, with appropriate pacing, dialogue that clicks and structure that delivers optimal impact from scene to scene.

What to look for

Every script doctor will have the skills to act as a jack of all trades, addressing a wide variety of problems. But like any trade, each will have their specialty. Some are dialogue ninjas. Some have mad comedy chops. Some can wring the maximum emotional yield out of every character interaction.

It is important to understand the “sweet spot” of your script doctor, as well as the core issue your script is facing, in order to ensure a good fit. You will want to garner as much reader feedback as possible, before the script doctor gives you their official diagnosis. But like a medical professional, if your back hurts from slaving over a godforsaken IKEA dresser, you know enough to steer clear of the proctologist.

The point is, for you to get the most out of your script, you need to get the most out of your script doctor. One size does not fit all.

What to expect

When you engage a script doctor, the process should be highly collaborative, particularly at first. You need to convey your goals for the script, your issues with the current draft, and the value you are hoping the script doctor will provide. Ideally, your initial conversations will take place in person, but technology is a great option. Skype calls are ideal for strategy or brainstorming sessions, so both parties can share not only auditory feedback, but visual cues and pantomimes. The purposes of this kind of interaction is to get the script doctor up to speed, align them to your vision, and share your sensibilities (and theirs).

Your script doctor also should operate in a very organized and businesslike fashion, documenting your input and communicating transparently throughout the rewrite process. Their job is to help you execute your vision. The work should not be done in isolation, in the dark. Bedside manner matters. If you are about to receive an emergency appendectomy, you wouldn’t do it yourself, and your doctor is pretty much obligated to let you know.

Consider us

Ghostwriters Central specializes in script doctoring and related screenwriting services. Our award-winning script doctor is ready to help you realize your vision and deliver the promise of your script.

See our ghostwriting rates page for pricing information.


CLIENT COMMENT AFTER PROJECT COMPLETION:

“Can you post this thank you on your website? I have achieved amazing success  with your professional help. I am a total amateur, now a winning one. Ghostwriters Central has done it for me: Ten film festival screenwriting awards and finalist positions, three writing competition wins, beautiful reviews and publicity for my screenplay in three countries. Quick, reasonable and winning, to say the least. This is my first screenplay and your guy wrote it for me so well I’m still getting CONGRATULATIONS emails. Your gift keeps on giving!  I’ve only been submitting my script for four months, a total newbie. It’s unbelievable, incredible! Thank you for making this my year for unexpected major success. I love you guys!” –J.B.

 

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