Dustin Bowcott

Copy-Editing & Proofreading for Creatives

What is copy-editing and how can it help you? Copy-editing is when somebody really anal (ahem) looks over your work for spelling and grammatical errors then actually corrects it for you. In screenplay writing terms, that also means I look out for things like OTN dialogue and exposition – and, in some cases, I will cut this out if it doesn’t harm the story to do so. If it does harm the story (ie exposition that needs to be delivered) then I will discuss with you the best way to deliver it. A copy-edit will give your writing the professional look without needing to get another writer on board trying to wheedle in on your precious credit. That’s what I’m all about, helping you get your script to a professional, ready-to-produce state. Want a better chance at winning a competition? Maybe your idea is supercool, you just lack that extra bit of talent that can push your story to new heights. That’s where I can help. Here’s a breakdown of how I can help you.

  • Content and Structure – Is anything missing or redundant in the action? Are the scene headings correct or do they need to be clearer?
  • Wording – Do any terms or abbreviations need explaining? Are tone, style and vocabulary appropriate? George Orwell’s six rules for writers, in his essay ‘Politics and the English language’, remain the basis of good wording.
  • Consistency – I have access to a list of decisions on alternative spellings, hyphenation, italics, capitals, units of measurement, how quotations are presented and much more. The text must not contradict itself from a logical standpoint.
  • Accuracy and anomalies – Writers are responsible for what they write, but copy-editors will often spot misquotations, errors of fact, misspelt names, misused words, numbers that don’t add up and incomplete references, and will check or query them. Copy-editors will also query anything that does not seem to make sense. They scrutinise facts, dates, quotations and references, but do not routinely check every one unless this is budgeted for and agreed at the start.
  • Legal issues – Copy-editors will flag any instances they see of
  • plagiarism or breach of copyright
  • libel
  • incitement to racial hatred.

– but responsibility for these remains with the writer, director and producer.

The above is merely a summary of the main tasks in copy-editing. The result of all this hard work is a screenplay that is clear, correct, coherent, complete, concise, consistent and credible – the seven Cs of editing.

Now for the dirty stuff, how much will a service like this cost you? A quality, professional service like mine should cost a minimum of £25 per hour, but I’m prepared to work at half that rate. How much work I can get through in an hour really depends on the script, but for £12.50 per hour (or approx US $16) I can edit 5-10 pages. In many cases that will be an entire short script. £12.50 (approx US $16) per hour doesn’t sound too bad now does it? I will also proofread afterwards for free to ensure the product is as professional as possible before you send it out to producers or enter that competition you’re about to spend your hard earned money on, or, in the case of directors and producers, start searching for those must-have attachments.

I’ll give an exact quote on a script-by-script basis. If you don’t like my offer then there’s certainly no obligation for you to stick around. I also offer discounts on feature screenplays and longer shorts. If you’re interested in a friendly no obligation chat then send me an email: dustin7375@gmail.com




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