Most screenwriters are extremely creative. They simply have a knack for storytelling. Their plots are fascinating. Their themes are provocative. Their characters are engaging. Their grammar...well, let's not go there. These writers have vivid imaginations but their grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills are weak.
When this happens, it is best to hire a professional screenplay proofreader to clean things up. I must tell you up front that I am anal (just ask my clients) about grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I will read every letter, every syllable, every word, every phrase, every sentence. And I will not hesitate in pointing out mistakes. It is so difficult to break into the film industry today that you simply cannot submit a project with misspellings or punctuation errors and expect someone to ignore them because "It's such a great story." Forget it. No one (agent, manager, contest judge, studio reader, story analyst, producer) wants to clean up your mess.
The last thing you want to do is submit a script with these defects. They act as roadblocks for the reader. They disrupt the flow of your story. And after a while, these same screenwriting professionals get so tired of the mistakes that they place the script in the rejection pile. It's simply not worth their effort. Don't let this happen.
My goal is not only to identify superficial deficiencies but formatting problems as well, such as:
When to use CONTINUED's, and when not to
When to insert an INTERCUT
How to format NARRATION
How to insert FLASHBACKS and FLASH FORWARDS
How to format DREAM SEQUENCES
What words or terms to CAPITALIZE in action
How to format OVERLAPPING or DUAL DIALOGUE
When and if to use BEATS
How to insert SUPERIMPOSITIONS and SUBTITLES
When to use ANGLE ON
What readers really think of PARENTHETICALS
When and how to format PHANTOM POV
How to layout a proper TITLE PAGE
Using the proper MARGINS
When to use the CHEAT ELEMENT for length
How to streamline MASTER SCENE HEADINGS
When to use CONTINUOUS in a scene heading
How to format a MONTAGE
Using CAMERA DIRECTIONS
How to format the FIRST APPEARANCE of a character
Formatting NEWS HEADLINES, BOOK TITLES, etc.
How to insert SPECIAL EFFECTS
When to use MOS and SOTTO VOICE
How to insert MUSIC
When to use V.O, O.C., and O.S.
How to format E-MAILS and TEXT MESSAGES
When to UNDERLINE
When to use FADE IN and FADE OUT
How to format SLOW MOTION
etc., etc., etc.
Trust me--you'll get a lot more than proofreading and copy editing. When the time comes to contact a screenplay proofreading service, make sure you do your homework. There are a number of companies out there to choose from. You need to find out WHO will be reading/editing your script. Many firms have multiple part-time staff members--many of whom are freelancers. Is that who you want cradling your baby? If you contact me, I will be the one to read your script. I will not outsource it. That's a promise.
And you'll get one more thing...you won't have to make the corrections to your script. I won't be returning a screenplay to you filled with red marks, with mistakes crossed out, with arrows telling you where something should go, etc. If you send me your script as a file from Movie Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft, Celtx, WriterDuet, Scrivener, Fade In or Amazon Storywriter, I will make all of the corrections to your script. You send me a flawed screenplay with spelling, grammatical, punctuation, or script formatting errors, and I will return to you a pristine screenplay, ready for submission to agents, managers, script readers, producers, or contest judges.