Handy Checklist for Script Assessment

blogPOSTERHANDYCHECKLIST

I’ve been sorting through some of my old files and papers – including some of the ones I’ve kept from my university degree course. Continuing with the ‘Introduction to Screenwriting: Adapting for the Screen’ module (c.2004), here’s a useful list of questions to ask when reviewing scripts. Whilst some of the list is script-specific (eg. Practicalities), most of the questions can also apply to written fiction.

Characters

  • Do you believe in them?
  • Is the speech pattern of each character:
    • individual?
    • true?
    • consistent?
  • Do we know enough about everybody important to understand them fully? Are they written at sufficient depth?
  • Are their motivations clear?
  • Do they develop, or do they end the piece the same people as when it began?
  • Do they have a life of their own, or are they puppets manipulated by the writer?

Conflict

  • Is there any?
  • Is the conflict something vague in the background (‘Fred vs Life’), or is it personalised?
  • Is the background too much in the foreground?
  • Is anything of importance to the characters at stake?

Action (not ‘activity’)

  • Do people do things?
  • Does anything happen?
  • Does anybody make anything happen?
  • Does the story mark time while the characters unburden themselves?
  • Do people actually get to grips with things, or is it all shadow boxing?

Plot

  • Is the story a mere succession of events?
  • Is it full of cause and effect?

Construction

  • Is there sufficient variety of pace?
  • Are the climaxes right?
  • Does the plot develop at the right speed?
  • Does the end work?
  • Are the audience’s expectations satisfied?

Content

  • Is the theme implicit or explicit?
  • Is it clear what the pace is actually about?
  • Do the characters know?
  • Should they know?
  • Is the theme clearly illustrated by the plot?
  • Does the writer bring to the theme an individual point of view?
  • Is it the right length for the ‘message behind the story’?

Practicalities

  • How expensive does it look?
  • Are all the characters necessary/are there enough?
  • Are there too many sets?

  • Did you want to turn the page?
  • Did you instinctively like/dislike the script [/etc]? Were you bored?
  • Does the writer know their stuff?
  • Have they got the vital spark?
  • Would you want to work on it?
  • Would the majority of people be entertained?

Enjoy this post? Find out how to structure a story with The Story Arc, or have a look at The Basic Story Themes.

storyarcblogposter     blogPOSTERSTORYPLOTS

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