If you’ve used my screenwriting services, you might have received this note from me:
To help improve you work, I highly recommend having your work read out loud by actors or friends…
I’m currently a member of an Los Angeles based writers group where we have weekly readings of our work. Someone reads the description/action, and actors sit on stage and read the dialogue.
Then the writer gets on stage and receives comments from the other writers and actors and anyone else who wants to put in their two-cents.
If you are writing a comedy, hearing your script read aloud is a must – you can literally hear which jokes get laughs, and which receive deathly silence.
But live readings works for other types of scripts as well. Hearing your script, you really feel the importance of every word. It’s a great way to get a good sense of tone and pacing, and flesh out how and why certain scenes bore while others dance off the page.
If you’re in LA, write comedy, and have a couple screenplays under your belt, check out the writers group I’m in – Deadline Junkies. I have from a good source that there’s an opening in the group.
If you’re outside of LA, there aren’t writers groups in your area, consider starting your own. Contact drama teachers. Put out a Craigslist ad. Look for someone in the arts.
Or just get some friends together, order a pizza, pour your favorite beverage, and go!
Have someone else read the description, and just listen. Take notes. Gage reactions.
If you can, recruit experienced actors to read your work. Actors will dig deep into your characters, giving them complexities you never knew they had, adding attitude to the dialogue you never considered.
And in the end, be sure to get feedback. Even from the actors. You never know where the idea that will crack open your script will come from.
Most of all, have fun! Live reads should be a good time for everyone. You’ve put in the work, now see it come alive.
The next step is turning it into a movie.