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By Kevin Nelson · August 3, 2020
So you’ve finished your screenplay and your mind is filled with daydreams of seven-figure deals and premiere night jitters. A common question presented by aspiring writers is, “I finished the next great masterpiece. What next?” The quick answer? You’re not done yet. You need screenplay coverage before your script is ready to pitch or submit competitions and agents.
Writing is re-writing. And professional-level script coverage is a big part of that final revision process. Here’s how to find the best screenplay coverage and how to use unbiased feedback from a professional script reader to improve your screenplay.
Screenplay coverage is simple the analysis and review of a script. The practice was developed by production companies and studios to establish an internal process of evaluating and selecting screenplays to develop. Major executives don’t have time to read every script that crosses their desks, so they instead read a summary and analysis of it in the form of coverage.
Their assistants read and grade scripts until they ultimately come to the decision on whether to recommend, consider, or pass on the script. Those three ratings — recommend, consider, or pass — are a huge part of script coverage.
From this system arose many competitions and screenplay evaluation services, that utilize many of the very same readers and script analysts to aid in providing writers better insight into how their screenplays measure up to this grading scale.
Screenplay coverage is a vital tool developed for writers to improve their work. Professional readers and analysts dissect your script with a much needed second pair of eyes, highlighting areas you might not be able to see. Whether you seek notes from a trusted friend, colleague, or stranger — it’s vital to gauge how others react to different elements of the story before submitting your work professionally.
There are essentially three types of script coverage. But most screenwriters really only have access to these two types of coverage:
Peer exchange is the easiest (and cheapest) type of screenplay coverage since it relies on notes from friends and peers. Aspiring writers can (and should) get feedback from other aspiring writers. Luckily, thanks to online forums and groups like coverflyX, it’s never been easier to get affordable (or free) peer-to-peer script feedback from other quality writers.
Typically peer script notes are about 300 words on the strengths of the script, 300 words on the weakness, and an optional section for additional thoughts. This provides the screenwriter a basic idea about what aspects of the script works and what needs improvements. Writers can also find community in these writing groups. Whether you meet in real life or support each other online, these groups can be a great way to build your network and get some really deep notes by swapping scripts with your peers.
The second type of script coverage is offered in packages by consultation and development services. These services usually cost anywhere from $39-$199 dollars depending on the length of your script, the amount of feedback you want, and how many rounds of coverage you purchase. There are times when consultation coverage can be included in the price of a competition submission, but coverage services are usually seen as an investment for the writer.
Professional script coverage services range from basic packages that tackle 2-3 main issues, to up to seven pages of notes that touch upon all the main elements of your screenplay: character, structure, dialogue, etc. The goal of paid coverage services is to get your work as polished as possible.
The third type of coverage is perhaps the most important. This is the confidential internal notes script analysts create for development executives and agents. You won’t see or hear a word from these pages, which is why paying for coverage can give you an idea of what they might say.
Script analysts provide the bulk of (paid) script coverage. Typically, these readers are contractors or full-time staffers for a production company, agency, or even a specific competition. These analysts typically have a minimum of two years of experience reading and grading scripts in a professional setting, but many of the best script analysts and readers have close to a decade of experience providing feedback for screenwriters.
Tips for Screenwriters from a Professional Story Analyst
Today, screenwriters have dozens of affordable and quality options for great script coverage. Some competitions offer free basic coverage with your submission and many offer more in-depth notes for an extra fee. And consultations services provide a range of coverage options to suit most budgets.
Make sure to research the various coverage services before you ultimately make your decision. As stated before, coverage is an investment in your screenwriting career, and often not a cheap one. Some services offer the world but leave writers feeling cheated. Avoid the heartache by relying on services that have a proven track record of delivering.
Here are the Top 5 Screenplay Coverages Services via to Our Partners at ScreenCraft
Screenplay coverage can take between 24 hours to 10 days, depending on the package you order. Rush coverage from WeScreenplay offers turnaround in a single day, while other services, like Launch Pad script coverage, take a few days. Sending your work out for critique can make the wait feel excruciatingly long. Try and use that time to decompress and free up some mind space before the real work begins: responding to all those notes!
Ready to purchase screenplay coverage, but not sure what to expect? Read this from our partners at Coverfly:
Getting the Most Out of Screenplay Coverage: Expectations
Kevin Nelson is a writer and director based in New York City, baby. He has written and produced critically acclaimed short films and music videos with incredibly talented artists. He’s also worked with anti-human trafficking organizations in Nepal, and would rather be in nature right now. Check out his Coverfly profile, see more madness on Instagram or follow his work on https://www.kevinpatricknelson
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