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Choosing a Script Analyst


What the heck does a script analyst do anyway?

Ideally, a script analyst is a trained professional who knows all aspects of story and can help you find the strengths and weaknesses in your work.

Why do I need a script analyst? My barber (mother, aunt, best friend, etc.) says my script is perfect.

Okay, tell them to pay you for it then. Seriously, Notre Dame doesn't hit the field without a coach. Self analysis leads to disaster that's why we have shrinks and counselors and anger management classes, even yogi gurus.

Do it yourself only works in certain isolated cases but most writers are not geniuses and need lots of counsel to improve their work. Every book author works with an editor. Why should screenwriters be any different?



How much should I pay?

Good question. How much are you willing to pay for any service, say getting your teeth fixed? Prices for script analysis range anywhere from a hundred dollars to thousands. In some cases, a thousand is underpayment and a hundred too much.

How do I find the right analyst for me?

Do your homework. Ask around. Find two or three that look interesting and talk to several before making a final decision.

What should their qualifications be?

It could vary from none to lots, but that's not the critical question. The question is what do they do with what they have. I've met dunce academics and brilliant mavericks who write better than any PHD.

“I try to leave out the parts readers skip.” —Elmore Leonard


What if I don't like what the analyst says about my work?

Are you paying to have your hand held? See your mother. If you are an adult seeking professional advice be prepared to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. That's what comprises most works of art until refined to it's final form.


What makes an analyst's viewpoint superior to anybody else's?

Everybody has an opinion. Even my typist says what she likes and what she doesn't and I don't discount her opinion.

What differentiates an opinion from expertise? Probably years of practical experience and looking at lots of stories.

In my case, one of my voluntary activities for many years was to participate on the Writer Guild Credits Committee. Why? it allowed me to study how a script evolved at the highest level (stuff that got made).

Also, for at least fifteen years, I dealt with 40 stories a week in various stages of construction in my classes at UCLA, USC and SDSU, and private practice. I don't think there is any substitute for hands on experience.

Do academic credentials count?

Like in any other aspect of life, yes and no. I'd certainly rather have a trained heart surgeon do my heart transplant than somebody who never did one before.

You will find that many analysts have a list of academic qualifications and sometimes not.

How much should I pay?

Check your finances. How much can you afford? If you are penniless, forget it. If you can only afford so much, so be it. If you have unlimited amounts of cash, find somebody who suits your needs regardless of expense.

Can I sell my first script for a million dollars? I'm tired of working at the Subway.

Don't give up your day job just yet. Sure it happens that a first script sells but not that often. Count on writing 2 or 3 just to get the hang of it.

How can I get further information on questions not answered here?

Call, write, fax or e-mail me to get answers to any question not answered above on the topic of choosing an analyst.

“The painting has a life of its own, I try to let it come through.”
—Jackson Pollock

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