I’ve spoken about script reports before, and how they are laid out and what the exec would expect to read in terms of the script’s critique. Once you start reading for a few different companies, they sometimes give you their own criteria on how they like their reports, and what they expect to read. It’s all variations of the main topics, of course, but they’re usually good script reading tips nonetheless. And it’s always good to revise, and be aware, so here are some useful reminders of how your script is being assessed once it gets sent out.
Quality of Concept: Is it an original premise? Is it a genre? Is it fulfilling its genre requirements in an interesting and engaging way? Is it a script with commercial or cultural potential, or does it have a specific target audience that would still make it worthwhile?
Story: What is the strength of the central concept and is it clearly established/dramatised in the story? What is the strength and clarity of the narrative and its development? Is the plotting overly-contrived or convenient, or does it feel organic and dramatic to the characters and story? Are the sub-plots noteworthy or indeed noticeable?
Structure: Does the script move at a good pace and utilise a fitting structure to tell its story? Are there discernable act-breaks or turning points? Does the action and story build appropriate interest and momentum to achieve these turning points? Is it too predictable or does it defy expectation?
Characterisation: Are they original characters with interesting qualities and personalities? What’s the dialogue like? Is there an emotional journey or character arc for the protagonist, and/or secondary characters?
Themes: Is there a solid coherence/integration of the theme within the body of the piece? Does it reflect social and topical issues or something more broad and universal?
Tone & Style: Is the writing consistent and skilled in its dramatic depiction? Is it too plain and drab with no real flair and voice, or does it show innovation and originality with its storytelling technique? Is there humour? What’s the atmosphere/mood like, does it change, dip, or slip into any kind of inconsistency?
Vision: What’s the visual potential of the story? Is it really TV? Does it or could it involve any technological aspects that would make the visual story more appealing?
These headings and questions are guidelines for the reader to think about, not for him/her to sit down and respond to each one in kind. Most of the time, readers respond on instinct and their developing insight into the whole screenwriting process so a well-written report that covers concept, structure and characters could well be more useful for the exec (and writer) than a routine checklist of every screenwriting element known to man.