Read your script in .pdf!

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.



Filed under Criticism, Good Writing, Rewriting, Screenwriting, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Read your script in .pdf!

  1. Michael Darby

    You’re right. And I don’t know where it came from, but another very useful suggestion is to read your script backwards! This helped me enormously when I was proofreading, looking for typos and lines to improve and words to cut. Why? Because this helped me to avoid getting caught up in the flow of the story and to focus on the task in hand. Believe me, it works!

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