Scriptwriter might as well be script reader as far as I’m concerned! I know reading other people’s scripts isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – too much of a busman’s holiday. I met a successful writer at the festival in Austin who admitted that he never reads scripts or indeed, screenwriting books.
But I find it really useful in terms of seeing how other writers handle formatting and story structure, not to mention dialogue. I read a script every other week, usually from a website like SimplyScripts but also work by other writers in a screenwriting group. And you do learn a lot! I download both produced and unproduced scripts – alarmingly, the writing quality is usually identical and the unproduced scripts are often of much better quality!
I read one unproduced screenplay recently that set me thinking: it was well-written and had good characters. It had a good basic plot. But the story theme was not exactly one that would set a box office alight, concentrating as it did on theoretical mathematics. The writer obviously knows her stuff and cares about this script, but its chances of selling seem slim. Should she concentrate on more commercial material or carry on writing the stuff she’s interested in? I suppose it’s the eternal screenwriting question, after all, no one really wants to write shelf puppies….
Anyway, I seriously encourage everyone to check out Simply Script’s unproduced section – there are some undiscovered jewels in there!