There is nothing as exciting, or as crushingly revealing, as handing over your script to a group of actors for a cold read. How thrilling! Your characters will come to life and you will cringe at some of the lines you thought you loved.
You may fight to urge to grab the script back when you realize how many extra words you’ve given your quirky love interest. You may…have…to…sit…and…suffer… while the actor heroically plows through what’s written on the page long after the scene has deflated around …your…your…typos and your very robustly magnificent usage of adverbs. (See what I did there?)
Perhaps you already read your work out loud when proofing in your pyjamas. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that your solo read-aloud will catch as many issues as a read by people who aren’t familiar with the material. If, like me, you’re used to finding your typos immediately after hitting “send,” then you probably already mistrust yourself enough to recognize this wisdom.
Kim Garland wrote a great article explaining how to host a table read for Script Magazine. I would add that this exercise can be useful even in the very early “vomit draft” stages of a project. I’m lucky enough to have a screenwriting group that meets regularly to table read from our works in progress. The notes that I make on my script while listening to these reads are invaluable. I’m pretty sure it saves me future pain, and it’s also a lot of fun.