What is a script editor and how can it help you?
"What do they do?”
This is a difficult question to answer. A 'Script editor' is a very broad term for someone who reads and manipulates a script in some way. Some people see a script editor, a dramaturge for theatre or a script doctor for screen, as a guide or mentor for new writing, a window to the audience's eyes. Others along the lines of an Assistant Director, fact checker or researcher. However, the role of the script editor within the creative process varies greatly, adapting to fit the needs of a project. The role of a script editor in a new work or adaptation is going to vary greatly to the role of a script editor within an established work.
A script editor is a clear head and a fresh pair of eyes, a private first audience for your work. They will give you honest opinions, share their observations and ask questions to help prompt new discoveries and offer suggestions regarding parts of the script that may benefit from more attention. A script editor will guide you through the various demands of script writing, be it character development, plotting, dialogue or any other number of things to help you achieve dramatic and thematic cohesion. A script editor will not make any changes to your script or attempt to push the script away from your vision, but rather will help guide you toward your own goals for the script and act as a second set of eyes to ensure those goals and that vision are being met. Whether it’s broader questions of themes and structure or detailed questions about dialogue and word choice, a script editor will help you talk through the options and how they'll fit in the work.
A conversation with a script editor can move through all these topics and more, and is usually led by your needs. What you want from the script and the questions that you need answered will always be the script editor’s primary focus. In a nutshell, a script editor' job is flexible! They adapt to suit your needs and provide you with whatever you need and nothing you don't. In my opinion, the difference between you getting that grant or your script being picked up by a network is often a script editor looking over it. You only get one chance to impress, get an expert opinion.
A script assessor, however, is a little different. A script assessor usually works with the people with the money; the producers and investors. They sit in the room during pitch sessions, attend script reading events and read over scripts sent to investors with the goal of seeing if the script is worth recommending for investment. A script assessor will take into consideration what you, as a producer/investor, are looking for: budget and return investment levels, if it is on your 'brand', assessing which festivals/awards the script would likely be eligible for/do well in, what is similar out in the market etc. Script assessor's are looking for potential not nessisarily finished products. They are a wealth of knowledge for upcoming works and niche markets and can guide you to the best possible choice for your next production.
These two roles, for me, complement each other wonderfully. Especially with me working fundamentally in ghost writing/editing. If I think your script is right for a production company, funding body or individual I have worked with as an assessor I will happily connect you and, if needed, help you prepare a pitch geared towards the certain individual! Alternatively, if you, as a investor/producer, have picked up a script I have recommended to you as an assessor I have been able to easily slip into the script editing role having already made a connection with the script.
So give YOUR script its best chance to shine & hire a script editor to help get it the top of that the pile!