I’m giving notes on a friend’s screenplay. As it turns out, he could not give me a hard copy, which is how I normally do my reading. As I am sure you’re well aware.
He sent me a .pdf.
I started the script, and very quickly realized that, because I was unable to pull out my pen and correct mistakes in scene description or trim dialogue or do my normal bleed-red-ink-on-the-page tap dance, I was approaching the material in a different way. I was concentrating only on story. I was not concerning myself with the physical writing.
Not at all.
After decades in this business, I suddenly understood that reading a script with no pen in my hand is an amazing way to look at only the story. I wasn’t getting bogged down in minutiae… I was looking at the Grand Plan, the characters, structure, overall tone, etc., etc.
What’s great is that I will be able to give him notes on story only, and a lot of scenes will end up being cut… and, had I done my Red Pen Act all over the script, I’d have wasted a lot of time on scenes that were going to vanish anyway. Pretty neat, hunh?
I still advocate printing to proofread, because it’s essential.
Reading a .pdf is another way to approach the rewriting process.