Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Table-Read: Not just another day in the office

Another snow day today.  And this time I have one too.  Remarkable.  I celebrated this morning by pretending that my couch was a seat on the train and hammered out about 1k words on the novel.  I also did a little bit of laundry just so I wouldn't feel guilty.  That put me behind so no breakfast until I finish this post!

The kids are excited (the ones that are awake) but disappointed that the snow that caused all of this rescheduling is falling as rain.  They're taking it though.  #4 was intrigued by the fact that he's now had  a 5 day weekend.

Today's Tool of the Trade is a table reading.  I alluded to its importance yesterday but thought it deserved its own post.  Table readings are incredibly valuable to the writer of stories that will be performed (stage or screen).

First and foremost, the reading gives you another set of eyes on the script.  All those times you typed 'buy' instead of 'but' or 'you' instead of 'your' really stand out when someone else reads them.  I make it a practice to proof-read out loud, but I still miss things.  Prior to submitting "Princess Rose" to the Bluecat competition, I had read it aloud several times but still caught errors when I sat through a reading by Final Draft.  FYI - the final draft tool is helpful but if it had been a feature length script I'd have torn my hair out.  Table reading is much, much better.

The next great thing is that you get to hear how the dialogue actually sounds.  What looks great on the page might be terribly stiff when spoken.  You'll see just how well it all goes together and, if someone has a soliloquy -- or screed -- you'll see that at once.

Then there's getting to hear the interpretation of the actors.  Someone else, someone who doesn't know the story in your head, is speaking the words and the tone will be different.  You may find that more direction is necessary to preserve the feeling of the scene, or that you were going in the wrong direction and should change it because the actor's take was complete genius.    Or maybe everything is perfect.  Lucky dog.

Table readings are also a great opportunity to socialize with folks, to share your lonely occupation with comrades and, if you're wired into the right community, find other film or theater buffs that will remember your work, and you, and involve you in other projects.  Cheetos and leads?  What's better than that?

The last bit about the table read is that you get to see how other people respond to your story.  You see what they like, what makes them emotional, what resonates with them, what makes them yawn...  All very important things for your rewrite.

I've read several great articles online about arranging a table reading.  I didn't follow any of the advice but I didn't have to in this particular situation.  I will, however, be following it in the future.  You know, when I finish my next screenplay and want to know what needs to be fixed.

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