Querying – Don’t Query Until Your Script is Ready

Don’t query until your script is ready. Sounds logical. But how do you know when it’s ready. Hold on– Things might get real patronizing real quick around here.

But really, who am I to talk? I’ve gotten read, yes. I’ve gotten repped. I’ve written probably two dozen screenplays but I’m no pro. I learn from trial and error. Maybe you do too.

So here are some questions that have come to form the rough checklist I used on my own spec scripts before pitching them in query letters:

  • Does your script adhere to industry formatting standards?
  • Is your script 90 to 95 pages long?
  • Does it read like other professional scripts widely available to download on the internet?
  • Does it have a three act structure?
  • Will I be able to put it down after the first ten pages?
  • Have a defining moment around page 20 where the protagonist makes a decision to either accept or to reject his journey?
  • Does your writing have a consistent and distinct voice?
  • Have you read your dialogue out loud?
  • Have you re-read the entire script word for word at least two or three times just to check for typos?
  • Have you had your script read by everybody you know?
  • By the people who are able to tell you the truth without you getting all testy?
  • Have you had it read by the closest thing you can find to an accomplished screenwriter?
  • Is this literally your first screenplay? Like literally, literally?
  • If so have you considered putting it aside of at least six months working on tons of other things, forgetting about it entirely then re-reading it with the fresh eyes of a newborn child?
  • Is this your first draft? Have you considered throwing that away and starting over?

I’m certain there are more questions. It’s a long checklist. And always evolving. I guess my point is, there’s writing your script and then there’s making sure it’s ready to be read.

And that goes well beyond the realm of querying tips.


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