Why You Need a Script Doctor By Lisa Montalto

Hollywood scripts go through quite a journey to make it to the big screen. There can be numerous rewrites and the script may pass through many different hands on its way to its final home. If a script starts off with a bang, it has the best chance of making it past the gatekeepers of the studios and production companies. That’s where a script doctor comes in.

Script doctors make sure that all facets of the script, such as story arc, dialogue, good pacing, character development, etc., are on point. The script doctor polishes the script, making sure it shines and that it meets industry standards while presenting the story in the best light. Formatting is crucial in standing out as a professional and just this one thing can mean the difference between an agent, director, or studio reading your script. You cannot hand in a Microsoft Word document and expect a callback.

There are many different script writing applications, but the industry standard is Final Draft which formats as you write and offers a section for notes while allowing script supervisors to easily break down the script.

The reason most writers use a script doctor is because they have a proven track record of taking any script to the next level. Perhaps the script needs a more comedic or dramatic effect, or the pacing and continuity are off. Script doctors can spot these things right away and correct them. Script doctors are usually in close contact with the directors and producers and know what they want. They know when to put in a parenthetical and when not to. They know how much scene description is necessary. And they are experts in maintaining continuity throughout the story.

As you would imagine, becoming a script doctor is no walk in the park. Not only do they spend years or even an entire career honing their skills, but things are ever-changing in Hollywood. Script doctors have to keep up with the latest techniques and the best talent in the business. They know when things change in the industry, what is hot at that current time, and how to write in a way that appeals to most studios and directors. The main goal is to make your script as “commercial” as possible.

So, what if you don’t want to hire someone because you want the script credits to be in your name? The good news is that many script doctors are ghostwriters. This is because they can offer their services to people who want to maintain writer’s credits on their projects and double their clientele. Ghostwriters specialize in scripts, but they also write manuscripts, proposals, and query letters, among others. Their expertise is what makes them stand out to many writers who have a story that would make a great movie. You might not even realize that most famous movies are written by a ghostwriter. But you’ll never know. Did Peter Benchley write JAWS all by himself, or did he employ a ghostwriter? And when Steven Spielberg directed the adaptation, most likely a script doctor looked that screenplay over before Spielberg yelled action in scene 1 take 1.

Even professional novelists do not always make the best screenwriters. Why? Because writing a script is a special skill set. There’s formatting to think about as well as setting the scene, and dialogue can make or break a script. For that reason, some of the best authors hire ghostwriters to polish their scripts. Once the script is at its best, the ghostwriter turns over full ownership and credits to the author.

Ghostwriters – which would include script doctors — are in essence invisible writers. They will diligently work behind the scenes creating your dream project while giving you full credit on your script. They have the skills to take your ideas and write a professional piece that keeps you at the forefront of the authorship. It really is the best of both worlds.

You may be wondering at this point how one finds a qualified script doctor. A Google search for “script doctors” will turn up many. Or you can go to any freelancer website, such as Fiverr, to find someone. If some guy on Fiverr gives you a big discount because he’s in Pakistan, my recommendation is: Don’t! Maybe AI such as ChatGPT? Also don’t. Or you can click the link to go to Ghostwriters Central, Inc., which has been providing quality script doctor services since 2002. Excellent script doctors can make any screenplay shine!

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