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I Entered My Screenplay Into 3 Major Competitions and Paid

The good, the bad, and the daunting from Hollywood script readers

I want to preface this article by saying that I am by no means the most seasoned

I’ve read books on the craft (and still do as I continue to learn), experienced a

But there is still a lot I need to work on, and as much as I love

Here’s what I learned and what I hope could be beneficial to you if you ever

They said they felt connected to the main character and were thoroughly invested in her journey from

Wow! What a compliment! Thinking back, I was incredibly emotionally invested in the character’s story, and

As far as what could have been improved, the reader’s main note was that the pacing

There were also decisions made by the protagonist in the third act that seemed like a vast

In the end, the reader said they really loved the themes and emotions of my script overall

This wasn’t a bad way to start the feedback process until…

I actually received comments from two different readers with this particular competition

In this case, both readers felt I had a strong premise and an interesting angle for a

This point mainly boiled down to the fact that I had my protagonist make a decision that

In essence, her character arc went backward instead of progressed

There is some overlap from the first reader here, which I feel is useful as it shows

I was actually the most surprised by the results from the third competition

Overall, they liked the idea but felt the plot, execution, and character arcs could use work

I’ve been a fan of this particular film festival for a long time, and I even

This was a really nice way to end my experience of paid script critiques

My second takeaway is that if you have a gut feeling about what is and isn’t

Reader feedback will amplify the more vulnerable parts of your screenplay, so if you have problem sections

Lastly, I learned firsthand that having solid pacing and structure matters

Going into the fourth draft, I plan to rework the significant plot points beat for beat and

I’m thankful to have entered my “still” messy third draft when I did, as it gave

I needed a firmer grasp of my protagonist’s development from the beginning

Her journey started to slump in the second and third acts because I didn’t fulfill her

Robert McKee discusses the importance of fulfilling a character’s conscious and unconscious desires in his book,

It’s also clear that she has an unconscious desire to feel secure in herself and fulfill

The antagonist is just as important as the protagonist in any story, and my screenplay lacked this,

There was a character that could have been a strong villain, but because I didn’t introduce

The dialogue was also an area in my screenplay that proved lackluster

I got wrapped up in a few cheesy philosophical statements with my dialogue

My characters also ended up having similar voices, which comes back to the issue I had with

I plan to have less but more purposeful dialogue in my next draft as well as better-defined