How Does the Spec Scout Score Work?

      The Spec Scout Score is a single number on a 100 point scale that represents the quality of a screenplay based on the ratings of multiple individual readers in multiple individual categories. The higher the score, the better the screenplay.

      To come up with the score, at least three readers provide an overall rating on the familiar "Pass / Consider / Recommend" spectrum as well as numerical scores for ten individual attributes discussed below. Our algorithm calculates the readers scores into a single number on a 1-to-100 scale.


      The Ten Categories The following are the ten individual attributes we evaluate for each script, plus the questions our readers consider and the scoring guidelines they apply.

      Character The protagonist's development is central to a script's success, and the main character(s) undergo the most analysis at Spec Scout. Readers need to understand the protagonist's emotional motivation and desires before they can invest in his/her journey, and nearly every scene should present information that's relevant in some way to the protagonist's arc. more»

      Conflict We think of "conflict" as the engine that drives the story, and as such, the central conflict should be universal and permeate the entire narrative. There should also be minor conflicts, which further complicate the Protagonist's struggle. Even minor characters and antagonists generally have conflicts, goals, and dilemmas that often counteract or support the protagonist. more»

      Craft In this section, readers assess the writing itself, as a whole. In addition to general wordsmithery, this is where readers may examine the effectiveness of action description, character descriptions, any overuse of camera direction, "unfilmables," and any cases of grammatical errors, typos, or improper formatting. more»

      Dialogue Though film is a visual medium, dialogue provides crucial textural reality and plays an important role in connecting the audience to the on-screen characters. more»

      Logic A good story can be grounded in the principles that govern our reality or it can establish an entirely new set of rules to which the characters and events adhere. In this section, our readers assess how consistently the script applies its own rules and whether there are any gaping plot holes. more»

      Originality No screenplay is completely original, obviously, but every script should feel fresh and contribute something original to its genre. "Formulaic" need not mean "clichéd." Even if a concept has been done 100 times before, it may be done again as long as the idea is richly presented and there's a reason for the perspective. more»

      Pacing Like the logic category, our readers assess each script's pacing on its own terms. Regardless of whether a story moves quickly or slowly, a well-paced screenplay times its major events so that there is a fair balance of tension and release. more»

      Premise In this section, our readers assess the major characters and events with a focus on evaluating the central concept of the screenplay itself, as opposed to the execution of the idea. In the coverage, the readers summarize the core concept and opine as to its potential for providing conflict and growth, not its commercial viability. more»

      Structure We think of good structure as a plot that presents one coherent and complete story. In other words, does the beginning lead into a middle that leads to a satisfying conclusion? In addition to the story's overall construction, our readers also assess the screenplay's deeper, internal structural elements. more»

      Tone Like logic and pacing, what our readers look for in the tone section is consistency within the world established by the script itself. The easy way to think of this topic might be, "If it's a comedy, is it funny? If it's horror, is it scary?" We also look for tonal elements that are obviously out of place with the rest of the piece, tempered by an assessment of the writer's intention. more»

      What to Expect from Our Coverage

      Each script we cover is read and reviewed by three separate readers who apply Spec Scout's lengthy and granular rubric in order to make sure they're all reviewing the material the same way. (You can see elements of the rubric in the "Ten Categories" to the left.)

      In addition, we've developed the following policies to make sure our writer clients get their money's worth.

      Coverage Samples
      • The Fault In Our Stars Black List Produced 92 R R SR Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber
        A teenage girl stricken with cancer falls for a boy in her support group and the two form a bond as they deal with their illnesses.
        Market January 17, 2012    Sold March 28, 2012
        Director Josh Boone
        Actor Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
        Agent Bill Zotti (CAA)
        Manager Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone (Kaplan/Perrone)
        Studio Fox 2000
        Production Temple Hill Entertainment
        12/17/2012: Adaptation of the novel by John Green made the 2012 Black List.
      • Murder City Black List Hit List Set Up 2012 82.8 R R C Written by Will Simmons
        To save the life of his family, an ex-cop, stripped of his badge after getting involved in a drug deal gone bad, must pay off his dying father’s debt.
        Market June 5, 2012    Sold March 6, 2013
        Producer Brooklyn Weaver
        Agent Geoff Morley, Jason Burns (United Talent Agency)
        Manager Brooklyn Weaver (Energy Entertainment)
        Production Thunder Road Pictures, Energy Independent
        Was with Aldamisa since March 2013. Thunder Road took ownership of the project in February of 2016.
      • Monster Problems Set Up 2012 87.5 C C SR Written by Brian Duffield
        Imprisoned but safe from the monster-apocalypse that now plagues Earth, a good-humored and sarcastic young man braves a thirty-mile stretch of monster-ridden hell to meet a girl he is convinced is the last single girl on Earth.
        Market June 18, 2012    Sold June 18, 2012
        Director Shawn Levy
        Agent Devra Lieb, Bayard Maybank (Gersh)
        Manager Zachary Cox, David Engel, Noah Rosen (Circle of Confusion)
        Studio Paramount Pictures
        Production 21 Laps
        3-2019 - This project is still alive. Per Deadline, Michael Matthews now directing. Shawn Levy producing. Michael Rooker starring.

      Loglines Part of our coverage service requires each of the three readers to write a logline summarizing the premise in engaging 1-2 sentence pitches. While most (if not all) of our writer clients will have written their own loglines, this exercise often underscores whether the script has connected with the reader as the writer intended. more»

      Synopsis Since it would be tedious to wade through three different synopses, our three readers collaborate on a single, concise overview of your screenplay. Your synopsis will end up between 500 and 900 words -- anything shorter and the story wouldn't be accurately summarized, but anything longer wouldn't be read by industry professionals. more»

      Citing Page Numbers Good coverage should be a tool writers can use to improve their scripts. That's why our readers take pains to cite page numbers throughout their comments. Whether we are pointing out a case of improper formatting, identifying effective structural beats or praising exceptionally well-crafted dialogue, examples with page numbers are the best way to identify exactly where an issue needs to be addressed. more»

      Questions? Comments? We're all ears.
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