When I first started writing the story I decided to stop mid-point and do what has been suggested by many screenwriting books and get an actors read through arranged. Principally to see if the dialogue sounded believable – I was quite excited to hear some of the scenes – and to be honest, my words being spoken out loud, those ones I spent hours tinkering over and sweating over for months. I needed to hear the awkwardness between two characters, see if their banter bounced off each other or fell flat on its butt. My characters for these first scene read through’s were Bertie of course with his very quick wit and Celine, aloof and shy.
I emailed a local dramatic group to see if one of the actors would step up and read Bertie’s lines, well the first 20 pages so it wasn’t too much of a burden as all I could offer in terms of payment was alcohol. My author friend Allie has an acting background, so I asked her to slip into the worn moccasins of Celine, Bertie’s first encounter.
A gift of wine and a free room upstairs in a pub (as I thought we may spill into the bar later) with my iPhone dicta-phone set to record we all met nervously and begun! It was such a worthwhile exercise and thoroughly fun evening, it lead to talking about the scenes and how the actors felt the messages they were trying to convey in each scene. A totally different perspective on my story was the boost it needed.
Shockingly I couldn’t believe how different some of the dialogue came across. Some scenes which I thought were very witty were actually really rather dull, the banter between the two just didn’t occur as to how I imagined it in my head and I knew then that I would have to cut or rewrite those scenes immediately. Some scenes were waaaaaaaay too wordy and needless. Recording it all too gave me a chance to re-visit scenes again (this tine without a bottle of wine down me and a shocking memory to boot) to analyse what to do with the story or characters.
Duncan, the voice of Bertie, was so good at portraying the gentlemanly side of Bertie and Allie did a terrific job of Celine, showing her vulnerability. But there were definite moments where I could see it just didn’t work between the two characters and to get back to the drawing board and start over.
I can’t recommend this exercise enough for once you have written or are writing your script. It could be a total game changer for where you are headed with your story.
Big thanks to Duncan and Allie for bringing my characters alive and I’ll never forget my first hearing of Bertie’s voice, while writing it John Lone’s voice would be in my head but now its first hearing with a Gloucestershire accent!