Doesn’t get any cheaper than this

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As my network of fellow screenwriters has expanded over the past few years, I’ve become more active with exchanging script notes with some of them. It’s a pretty even split between me approaching them first, and vice versa.

From my perspective, the whole thing has been quite helpful and I think my scripts are definitely better for it. And as far as I know, none of the other writers have any complaints about my notes. If they do, they’re not saying anything.

It’s gotten to the point where every once in a while, an email will pop up from one of these folks asking if I could look over their latest draft and offer up my two cents. I’m fairly certain I’ve never said no.

Full confession: it usually takes me a little longer than I expect to get it done, but I do make a point of getting it done. I try to extend the same courtesy to them that they would to me.

I bring all of this up because I had a great catching-up coffee chat with a writer yesterday; somebody I haven’t seen since last summer. We shared what’s been going on with our respective projects, and I mentioned finishing/sending off some notes.

“Do you charge for that?” they asked.

No. It’s just an exchange, and I like helping out when I can.

“That’s really generous of you to give up your time like that. Have you thought of charging for notes?”

Of course, but I don’t consider myself qualified to. If I was a working writer and had a couple of produced features under my belt? Maybe.

I’ve always found the bios of professional consultants and readers to be pleasantly diverse and equally fascinating. Almost all of them have spent time working in the industry, many having read or given coverage on thousands of scripts.

Me? I can’t make the same claims. I’ve read a lot of scripts, but nowhere near those numbers, and a large percentage of my time has been (and continues to be) focused on honing my writing skills.

They have a fairly solid grasp of what works and what doesn’t, and provide much more insightful comments than I believe I could.

All things being equal, I’d say my analytical skills have definitely improved over time. I don’t know what kind of pro reader/consultant I’d be, but for the time being, I’ll stick to the friendly no-cost, between-writers exchange.

As mentioned earlier, I like helping when I can, and will continue to appreciate any opportunity to read an associate’s script in order to give them notes that will in theory help them make it better.

*personal note – this is my 800th post. Thanks for being part of the journey, and hope you’ve enjoyed it. I certainly have.

2 thoughts on “Doesn’t get any cheaper than this

  1. If we read each others scripts & give notes, we are bartering, trading services. People who charge for reading are providing a service that is one way, so, yes, if they have extensive credits, they can charge & we can hire them if we wish. Most contests charge extra if you want notes on your entry. I think that’s fair as they are providing an additional service. I think the advantage of paying for notes is the reader doesn’t have to worry about hurting your feelings & can be more honest than a friend who reads your script.

  2. I appreciated your notes. They were a generous offering of your time. Many of us are joining this journey at various skill levels. I have a network of friends who I exchange projects, but I’m hesitant to ask because I realize it is such a commitment of time and energy. For those who have just begun this journey, I can help. As people progress, I find myself less helpful. Until I have optioned and sold a script, and seen it in the can, I will not feel qualified to charge for services. Until then I will if time permits, be happy to give feedback, no matter how torturous it sometimes can be with beginning writers. If anyone hasn’t told you lately, Paul, you’re definitely one of the good guys. I have full confidence that you will make it in this industry. It’s only a matter of time. Happy writing.

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