Top Tips for Getting Feedback on Your Screenplay

By: Sarah Chaisson-Warner

Receiving feedback is an essential part of the writing process for screenwriters of all levels – from aspiring to established.

The concept of “coverage” first began in production studios – producers employed readers to read scripts and create an internal report detailing the script’s strengths, weaknesses, and marketability. Each reader would then assign a “pass,” “consider,” or “recommend” to the script. The problem? Writers never received any feedback about their script, only its “grade.”

At Shore Scripts, our coverage service is designed to support each writer’s journey and help them create the strongest and best draft of their script. But before you purchase coverage (from us or anyone else) you should ask yourself the following questions:

Why is this the right time for coverage and what do I want out of it?

This might seem like an overly simple question, but it’s the first and foremost question you should ask yourself. Do you want the coverage you receive to help solve some specific problems within your script? Are you seeking feedback to help determine the next steps for your script? Perhaps coverage can help you make those final fixes and polish your script before submitting it to a contest. Or maybe you have another reason to get feedback?

At Shore Scripts, you can include “comments for the reader” in your coverage request to tell us more about what you are looking for in coverage feedback. Perhaps you need help with the pacing of your second act, or you’re looking for ideas to make your script more budget-friendly.

And don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you need from coverage – our readers will provide you with the kind of insights that will help you move forward with your script.

“Thanks to the excellent feedback, I realized that my log line needed changing (to make it a bit less dramatic) and that maybe I should have cut the show in half, so that it would feel more like a family sitcom…I thought their coverage was excellent. Really perceptive, incisive and encouraging.” ~ Stewart Alexander

Knowing the “why” is critical for helping you determine what you want out of coverage, but you should also consider the “when.”

Patty Papageorgiou, Shore Scripts’ Coverage Service Manager, advises writers that timing can be important to help you get the most from your feedback. “The very first draft should be to get your ideas down. When you feel you’ve done the best you can do and have gotten as far as you can in your project, a second pair of eyes and guidance is helpful.”

Our contests have helped over 100 writers kickstart their screenwriting careers

See how our Feature, TV Pilot, Script Development Fund & Short Film Fund Contests can help you break through as a screenwriter.

When choosing a coverage service, you should also consider what format they use to provide your feedback. Some services provide only comments on various parts of the script (dialogue, characters, plot, etc) while other services, like Shore Scripts, take a holistic approach and include an “industry scorecard” that rates the various aspects of your script as well.

Consider too, what “perks” the coverage service might offer writers requesting coverage. For example, at Shore Scripts, we send the three scripts that received the highest coverage service scores in the previous month to agents and managers actively seeking new clients (with the writer’s permission, of course.)

Look for coverage services that not only support your writing journey but help connect you with industry professionals too.

“I have nothing but positive thoughts about the coverage. Insightful and to the point. Actionable. Some notes can be very opaque and hard to grapple with. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 3 recommended scripts to be sent out to executives this month as well.” ~ Alec Whittle

What kind of turnaround time do I need?

Every service offers different turnaround times. Turnaround times can vary depending on if you’re selecting coverage as part of a competition entry or if you’re submitting to a stand-alone service. At Shore Scripts, you’ll receive your non-contest coverage in 2 – 5 days, but if you’re submitting for coverage through one of our contests then the wait time can be a little longer, normally under 7 days, depending on how busy we are.

Who do I want to read my script?

Coverage services can also vary in terms of the quality, skills, and experience of their readers. Ideally, you want someone reading your script who has industry experience – someone who has served as a reader for a production company or studio, and who has the skills and qualities to objectively evaluate your work. Some companies keep their reader roster private, while others, like Shore Scripts, publish a list of some of the readers who have agreed to share their details and their accolades on our website.

We also offer writers the ability to select a specific reader for non-contest coverage based on their specialisms and skills (for an additional fee that goes to the reader). Inquiries about selecting a reader can be sent to our Coverage Service Manager and when agreed the writer is provided with the reader’s unique ID code. Shore Scripts is also proud to provide information about our contests and coverage as per our pledge to Women of Color Unite (WOCU)’s screenwriting contest transparency initiative. You can view the report here.


Hot Topic! You should also ask the coverage service if they use AI – Shore Scripts never uses AI in its coverage. 

How will I handle feedback?

Receiving feedback on your script can be a difficult process. You’ve spent countless hours writing and rewriting, moving scenes and then deleting them, and crafting dialogue that stands out. You feel a special connection to your project – as you should – and it can be emotionally trying to receive feedback.

Think through how you will receive the feedback and how you can best process it. Some people best utilize feedback from coverage services by absorbing the report all at once and starting their rewrites right away. Others are better suited to reading parts of it over a period of time. Others may choose to read the report at once, then put it aside and re-read it again later.

Regardless of what your style is, think through how you can best accept feedback.

“The reader did a great job pointing out the strength and perceived weaknesses of my writing and I’m grateful for that. The suggestions were seriously taken into consideration. As a writer, it is difficult to open your work to the opinion of a stranger but in this circumstance, I feel that it ultimately made me and my script better.”~ Matthew Burgess

 

How much money do I want to spend?

Coverage services vary in cost, and Shore Scripts aims to offer a variety of options at affordable prices, including two, three and six-page coverage reports, and a proofreading service. Beware, though, of coverage programs that are dirt cheap – you likely won’t receive quality feedback.

“I’ve received both script coverages and wanted to say that I’m blown away by the notes. Both readers touched on entirely different areas throughout so I definitely got my money’s worth. Makes me eager to get going on the next draft.” ~ Thom Egelston

Want to know more about Shore Scripts’ coverage services? Click hereAnd don’t forget, you can email our Coverage Service Manager Patty Papageorgiou via submissions@shorescripts.com with any questions you might have.


After 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is also currently writing a sci-fi and a family Christmas script. Her script, Serafina Stavinovna, has placed in several competitions.


Don’t miss a deadline. Download our Contest Calendar!

.