Do's and Don'ts of Screenplay Proofreading

Congratulations! You are here because you have completed one of the most difficult steps of screenwriting, writing the draft.

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.

Though it is difficult writing the first draft it is just the first step on how to sell a screenplay. Usually after writing the first drafts, many writers wonder how to proofread a screenplay and how to sell a screenplay? Should they meet agents or go to Los Angeles? But wait…all this comes way later. As you have just written your first draft, this isn’t your perfect piece. We should acknowledge that the first draft has many issues which are more visible every time we read it again. Hence, the first draft is never the final draft. It is an unpolished project that needs to be refined before being put in front of agents.

The first step towards revising your screenplay is Proofreading. While editing is equally essential, it is proofreading beyond the grammatical mistakes that helps refine a screenplay. While proofreading you will immediately notice where you have made grammatical mistakes and where you have been unable to follow proper screenplay format and screenplay font. 

For grammatical mistakes online writing services like Grammarly or screenplay proofreading services can easily point out the errors you have been making while finishing the first draft. However, what we mean by proofreading going beyond the grammatical errors is understanding the screenplay bit by bit where proofreading in itself is a long process. Let’s take a look at the Do’s and Don’ts of Screenplay Proofreading.

Usually after writing the first drafts, many writers wonder how to sell a screenplay? Should they meet agents or go to Los Angeles?

Proper Screenplay Format, The Do's Of Proofreading

  • Solitude: Proofreading requires silence and solitude. You need to be patient with yourself and give all your attention to proofreading the screenplay. While you are alone reading the screenplay, you have all your attention towards it and you are focused on it alone. This will give you mindfulness and an ability to see through the errors you are making.
  • Reading bit by bit: Your screenplay should be read bit by bit precisely. You would not want to make any mistakes and have the agents toss out your screenplay. Hence, reading every line and understanding its true essence is extremely important. Here you can make changes to whichever line you think is unfit or a dialogue which is extremely long and out of context can be easily replaced.
  • Reading Aloud: What goes hand in hand with reading bit by bit is reading aloud. Remember when teachers told us to read aloud to find out issues or errors in our essays? The same thing applies here. Reading aloud is miraculous. While we do underestimate it, it is one way to be completely present and focused in the situation. It helps to limit distractions and you can see the errors more clearly. It is a given that you will have to stay in a room without any people because you reading aloud will not only divert your attention but definitely cause disturbance to other people around you. Also, it is quintessential in finding plot holes and realizing when a line is longer than preferred. Whenever you find yourself running out of breath, you know that this will sound more awkward and outright looks bad on an actor hence, time to change that dialogue. You will be able to gauge the true essence of the screenplay by reading it loud and then rewrite and revise the screenplay in a precise manner.


Getting People To Read Your Script, Find a Script Reader.

After you are done proofreading by yourself, you should have at least one person read your screenplay. It would mean that if you have missed out anything, this person will be able to highlight it for you. Moreover, it will be a good way to have them read your screenplay in full and give a constructive feedback on that. You can also go a step further and organize a table read.

 You can give allot people different characters while they read the dialogue and the settings. This will give you a wider perspective on correcting all your mistakes. As you hear other people read your script you can understand the abrupt tonal shifts, lengthy dialogues and use of extra dialogues and unnecessary locations. Also, this will give a perspective on plot development and character growth. If you get actors to read for you then it will way more beneficial to understand if your dialogue is appropriate or not.

How To Sell a Screenplay, The Don'ts Of Proofreading.

screenplay proofreading services
  • Allowing distractions: Turn off that phone!! Or at least put it aside. Believe it or not, losing your focus would not benefit a screenwriter in any way. That is why solitude is important but people aren’t the only distraction. The phone can cause a longer distraction than any discussion with a fellow human being. Hence, put it away from you so that you don’t end up regularly checking it. While easier said than done, this shouldn’t be one of the hurdles in your screenwriting success.


  • Scanning and skimming while proofreading: Scanning through your first draft will not even highlight the grammatical mistakes lest the issues with plot or characters. Scanning through your screenplay will mean that you aren’t willing to write a good product because mistakes will definitely remain. If you want your screenplay to make it to the screen, you will have to thoroughly read it bit by bit.
  • Proofreading only once: As mentioned above, you should at least once read yourself and once let someone else do it for you. That is the bare minimum. Proofreading once by yourself won’t let you fully immerse and correct and your mistakes. Your one read should be to check words and dialogues, the next to experience and understand if the story is going smoothly and in the right direction. Even if all this is done at once, give it another read.
Script Reader

Screenplay Submissions Wanted, Find as Many Places as You Can For Script Feedback.

Proofreading is quintessential to the process of screenwriting.  Understand and act upon these Do’s and Don’ts to perfect the proofreading of your screenplay. By the end you will not only have a better draft but you will also be able to write better for your next screenplay. Always look for where screenplay submissions are wanted, utilizing great script readers can really help prepare your script to win the next big screenplay competition.

Great tips for proofreading in general. Learning to proofread first comes before learning how to sell a screenplay.

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