Script doctors refine screenplays, polishing it till it is perfected to suit the preferences of all concerned – the cast, members of the crew, production in-charge, and the director. The professionals carry out the same task on a script as a medical doctor would do while discharging his duties, i.e., setting any flaws existing in the screenplay/patient right. Doctoring scripts is by no means an easy task. It requires years of experience in working with scripts of films, television, drama or computer games.
Experience gives the doctor expertise and confidence to see the pot-holes in the script and rectify them to make them more acceptable. Script doctors may start as a small-time writer of screenplays, but as many pass his hands, he begins to recognize what the audience would appreciate seeing on the screen. Even if, the original writer has left a few loose ends, the script analyst can easily discern them and set them right. A script doctor shoulders heavy responsibility. He is generally hired to look at a particular aspect of the script of several of them, like, pacing, dialogues, plot, characterization, and language used to give all the people involved a common platform of understanding.
The trend today is to pass the script through the hands of several script doctors so that the final result is immaculate.
Doctoring is performed on screenplays that have won acclamation from the producers, and the financiers are willing to make investment in them. Then the script doctors are hired to give the screenplay a polished look. Doctors are provided with the digital copies of the original screenplay. They are either asked to pull it apart and re-write it or simply touch-up those elements which are lacking in some way. In both cases, the script doctor plays a remedial part. The output is praise worthy piece of flawless composition. Script doctors are of great assistance because they are well-versed in the right formatting style, grammar, and break-up into acts. They have the skill to highlight the preeminent points in the story and the characters. The entertainment industry benefits a great deal from the doctors’ work. The industry standards can thus be met and also the audience gets to see the best. The script specialists may work individually (as in the case of TV) or in groups (as in the cinematic world).
Most often the work of the script doctor goes unappreciated and is hidden behind a veneer of anonymity. Unless the script doctor contributes a large chunk (50% and above), he is not entitled to receive WGA or any national level award. Furthermore, the rampage by script doctors may rob the original screenplay of its real flavor, leaving only a distorted image of what the original writer wanted to depict. It is a commonly accepted fact that each writer leaves a reflection of his personality on the screenplay under construction. For the right script doctors, this area of screenplay writing is a good opportunity to further their skill and earn a handsome salary.