The Writers' Haven: Gabriola Island Workshops and Retreats

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The Story So Far: crafting the script

You've got a story you're dying to tell . . . but you're not sure where to start. You may even have a treatment or a first draft over which you've sweated a few buckets of blood and tears, but something is still missing and you can't tell what it is. Maybe you've had a nibble of interest from a big, small, or medium-sized producer, or you're contemplating submitting your project to an agent or entering it in one of the many competitions that promise all kinds of networking possibilities, but you want to make sure the draft you send is conveying your story in the strongest possible terms.

Keep in mind that only one in ten scripts gets read beyond the first ten pages. So you need to make sure yours is in the best shape it can be before it goes out to industry professionals.



What you need is an outside eye: feedback from someone who has seen many hundreds of scripts, analyzed their dramatic structure; the quality of the writing for dramatic purposes including character arcs, interaction and dialogue; assessed the market potential; defined the genre, the theme, the plot and the hook that will catch the eye of the people who will eventually translate the story idea into a viable product.

After over 25 years working with writers to develop a variety of scripts from monologues to feature films, from full-length theatrical events to short radio plays, from improvisational performance to thoroughly rehearsed conference presentations, Patricia Ludwick has trained her eyes - and her ears - to recognize the essential elements of a dramatic story. She knows how to listen for what is still emerging, where the story needs focus, when the characters should be expanded or combined, how subplots can be folded into the climax, when to cut to the chase.

The Development Process: Services and Fees



Every writer develops an individual way of working and the stamina to keep reworking a project until it fulfills its potential. The purpose of a story editor or dramaturge is to be the writer's advocate, to support the creative process in whatever way works for the individual, the particular project, and the current stage of development. It's a long way from story idea to opening night, and you need all the help you can get to keep your creative fires burning.

Project Assessment



If you have a story idea fleshed out into a treatment or an outline for an adaptation from another source (short story, play, or novel), you would be wise to get an analysis of the project's potential, including advice on the most appropriate format (mini series, MOW, feature, etc.) for the material, and an evaluation of its major strengths and weaknesses, audience appeal, and genre definition. The fee for this kind of project assessment is $200.00; you can expect a four to five page written summary, or, if you prefer, a half hour phone conversation on the merits of your proposal. Story material may be submitted by e-mail if it is under 20 pages, or a hard copy sent by courier or regular post. Response will usually take five to seven working days from receipt of the material and the fee.

Reader's Report



If you have a complete draft, you may benefit from a reader's report: Patricia provides an in-depth analysis of a script, five to seven pages of insight into its strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions for revising everything from story structure and pacing to details of subtext and visual style. The fee for this service is $200.00; a print copy of the script must be provided by courier or regular post or by hand, and the report can usually be provided within seven working days following receipt of the script and the fee.

Rewrites:


If you have submitted a script to Patricia for a reader's report and subsequently created a new draft which incorporates solutions to the problems raised in the report, you may resubmit the project for another review by the same reader. Patricia's fee for this service is $150.00; you may choose either an hour's discussion (by phone or in person) OR a written response of approximately three to five pages (by e-mail or regular post). Scripts must be provided in hard copy, not by e-mail, and be accompanied by the fee.


Story Consultation



If you have completed a new draft and received feedback on it from various sources, the next step may be a story consultation. Patricia will discuss your project, your rewrite proposal, your beat sheet, your character outlines, and any of your own concerns about the script, either one-on-one or in a story conference, in person or by phone, providing individual advice to you and/or your producer, director, or agent. Fees for this service begin with a base figure of $150 for studying the script, plus $50 per hour of discussion. If you require written notes of this discussion, an additional fee of $50.00 will get them to you within a few days of the conference.

Story Editing



You may be at the stage where you have funding for a full-time story editor, to help you take your script through a complete overhaul, from scene-by-scene outline to a complete new draft. Patricia is available to help you wrestle your story into shape, through phone conversations, e-mail exchanges, and story conferences. If you work best in visual mode, the approach might start with index cards, post-it notes, a story board; if you think on your feet, we can work with tape recorder and transcription notes. A contract is required for this level of service, with a start and end date, fee schedule, and terms for expenses such as travel, fax, courier, and long distance telephone charges. The fee is based on the industry standard: a minimum of $3,000 to bring a project the full distance from one development stage to the next; a higher rate applies if the work involves more than six full days in conference with Patricia.

Please note: Scripts must be submitted in hard copy, not by e-mail. Fees must be sent with the story materials, preferably by cheque. In most cases, you can expect a response within seven working days, by e-mail or phone. For expedited service, contact Patricia directly.
For further information about any of these services, please contact us at

E-mail: writershaven AT uniserve DOT com

[NOTE: replace AT by @ and DOT by a period and close spaces, as in xxx@uniserve.com]


If further discussion is required, Patricia will arrange a suitable time for a phone conversation. Please do not telephone first: it will save everyone time, money, and frustration if you e-mail first.

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This page copyright © 2007, Patricia Ludwick
1890 Starfish Place
Gabriola Island, BC
Canada V0R 1X6
Phone: 250-247-8990

E-mail: writershaven AT uniserve DOT com

[NOTE: replace AT by @ and DOT by a period and close spaces, as in xxx@uniserve.com]
Last revision: October, 2007