What does it take to write a good screenplay? One that actually might get made someday? Most writers feel that they know what is necessary, and they probably do. Translating it onto the blank page successfully however, can be another matter entirely.
This is where a story editor or script consultant can help.
The old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true. Especially in this business! The entertainment business is not known for its attention span. This is where a story editor or script consultant can help make the difference. In the initial early stages, writers and their projects can benefit immensely from the input and collaboration of a script consultant, and ultimately, a story editor if things move toward the next stage of financing and packaging.
Let’s break down the different roles of the Script Consultant and the Story Editor.
A script consultant is not after writing credits. They work for you, the writer, to help bring out the best in your story, and to address its weaknesses and potential areas that may require further development. In most cases, writers become extremely focused on their story and the script, and this is a good thing! However, this can also mean that they may be working in isolation and can lose objectivity and the ability to see “the big picture”. A specialist can help you. Their job is to ensure that you are telling your story in the best possible way, and that it reaches its full potential. An experienced professional will not only provide detailed notes and guidance in specific areas, but should also help analyze your script with regard to target markets, and its potential in the worldwide marketplace and placement in film festivals. The right person won’t just tell you what needs work or what needs to be fixed, they will actively make suggestions and work with you to help find solutions. A script consultant will be working intimately with you, so make sure you choose someone that you feel comfortable with!
A story editor will come on board a project often when there is some development funding or financing in place, and usually when a producer and/or director is attached. A story editor can be invaluable in helping to unify the visions of the writer, director and producer, and make sure that it is articulated in the best way. At this point, there is a specific target market that has been identified, and the entire production, and project as a whole is taking shape. The story editor facilitates the creative process, can mediate ideas, and helps to maintain the vision and integrity of the project. It is imperative that the story editor chosen for a particular project is the right fit. Some work with a preference of genre, short format, long format etc. As with the script consultant, it can be a very intimate working relationship, so select the right professional for you and your project.
Working with a story editor, or a script consultant along the way, can and should be an enlightening and rewarding experience. Be prepared to roll your up your sleeves and get dirty!