Many of these tools are intended for use by other professionals, such as line-producers or actors, but they come in handy for screenwriters as well:
- As I’ve talked about before you can use the “Speech Control” tool to hear Stephen Hawking read your script out loud. Not only is this the most foolproof way to proof-read, it also highlights awkward sounding sentences. There was a certain TV show this season that contained this line: “There are walls even a man as dextrous as you can’t climb”. No actor can deliver that line well!
- You can also export “scene reports”, listing the page-length, location, and cast for each scene. These tell you which scenes are way too long, which locations we see too much of, and which minor characters should probably be combined or eliminated.
- You can export individual “character reports”, which allow you to see each character’s dialogue isolated into its own document, making it very clear if that character’s voice is consistent. This is the time to make sure that character has a consistent metaphor family, default personality trait and default argument strategy.
- It also allows you to cut out instances of multiple characters using the same turn-of-phrase. In one episode of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”, Detective Logan shows up at a crime scene and get briefed about the victim by a street cop: “He was blackmailing a local newscaster” “Gay sex?” “Nope, call girl. Think Spitzer, not McGreevy.” Then, just two scenes later, Logan is in the lab talking to an expert who points out that a bomb was both old-fashioned and cutting edge. The expert sums up by saying, “Think Tony Bennet, not Steve and Edie” These are two completely different characters in different places, using the same distinctive turn-of-phrase!
But once your screenplay is approaching its final form, you need to go back and eliminate embarrassing examples like these, in which it become instantly obvious that each minor character has the same personality: yours. Now that Stephen Hawking is reading your script aloud, these errors should stand out like sore thumbs,
Next time: the finale: You’re a Poet and You Don’t Know It