Screenplay Hack: Why You Need To Table Read Your Screenplay

How is a table reading so important?

Table reading is the later point of the script format and character development process. A big question in the minds of writers is that why is a table reading so important? Well, first of all, it is full of fun. Watching a script being read is quite entertaining. It’s also a way to see how actors reply to the screenplay structure of writers.

These readers are not always the ones who are to be cast at a later stage. They could be emerging actors or students of screenwriting programs. The most important thing is pursuing good material. Such people who have an interest in great plays will provide a better response to writers. Since they regularly audition for roles so they are plugged in.

This makes them able enough to interpret characters in depth. With table reading, writers can see how their character is being perceived and how it will be portrayed. Most new writers struggle in this area. There is also a possibility that the intention perceived by an audience is not what the writer had in his mind. From jokes to the overall tone of the script, anything can be misinterpreted. In such instances, going into a table read helps writers get a solid script.

Experienced writers always practice table reads of their first drafts to see what’s being communicated. Some even ask questions from audiences regarding actors and script. Such interactions help identify the issues within the script outline. They even point out the flaws within the characters and explain the meaning interpreted by the audience. All these factors contribute to an accurate interpretation from people who are embodying your characters.

How important is it for actors to understand their role?

Even though people might disagree but understanding the character is more important for the actor rather than the writer. These actors embody the character and step into their shoes. Therefore an actor’s understanding of his role is higher than that of a writer’s.

Actors bring a character to life. As a part of their craft, they try to discover more and more about the roles they are to play. Whereas the writer focuses on the mechanisms of drafts, making the story a cohesive whole and clearing the goals and motivations. Table read helps explore all of these elements and helps figure out the flow of the script.

If some of you are confused as to how can a table read do that? Let us explain. A good table reading helps writers see how well their action descriptions are written. It clears all doubts regarding the syntax errors, pauses, and readability of the script. However, to achieve this goal, writers need a good narrator so that the reader doesn’t stumble nor ruin the flow of the story. Having a good-paced script along with a credible narrator helps writers observe the hiccups.

Sometimes readers get stuck on parentheticals so most writers skip them. An experienced reader can also stumble at a parenthetical thus creating a glitch. With a good narrator, the writer gets an exact idea of how the script flows in terms of pace. The combination of a quality script, a good actor, and an experienced narrator helps writers understand at least half of the script.

How to act in a situation where they’re wrong versus you also have a big error you need to correct

Sometimes in the middle writers become aware of the fact that a certain actor isn’t acting as per his interpretation. It might devastate writers but getting frustrated is not the goal of this reading. Writers need to be open-minded at this stage. Even if actors don’t get a grip of the character or act foolishly, writers must not lose their calm.

Whenever a writer receives any kind of note regarding an error from an actor, try understanding the meaning behind it. It might be related to something bigger or a fundamental issue. In table reads, writers might even get notes that are surface level. But, being a story developer and a script engineer, you need to go into depth. It might be possible that the lack of clarity in explaining the goal or motivation, changed the whole meaning of the dialogue.

That is why one should never discard any kinds of notes. The audience consists of actors who might not be familiar with the mechanics of screenplays and stories. These actors are consumed with their character and perform based on their understanding. So writers have to take these suggestions, reinterpret and filter things according to the audience’s perspective. Even if it doesn’t make sense individually do keep it in consideration.

Conclusion

All in all table reads are fun, beneficial, and give a lot of ideas. Moreover, these honest assessments help writers figure out how much work needs to be done for a specific actor. Sometimes things that make perfect sense in the writer’s mind but don’t fit in with the audience. Producers and people who will finance your project will read in the same manner as an ordinary audience member. They will also point out the existing flaws. Therefore being biased towards your work is not an option. Do not feel that the criticism is an insult rather use it to fix the fundamental issues in your work.

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