There's nothing as effective as hearing your dialog read out loud for telling where it's not working. Reading it yourself is helpful, but you won't really find out how they sound to someone reading them on the page, without the benefit of your brain.
The best way to hear your script is read aloud in person by actors. If you have good actors, and especially if you know enough actors well enough to cast them right for the parts, some of the magic of the movie will happen in your living room -- or not.
Of course, you may not know actors. Most people don't.
Another way to hear the script read is through TriggerStreet
. Writers gang up over a free Skype
line to read each other's scripts. Writers are not as good at reading as actors are. But then you can pay them back by reading their scripts. As opposed to feeding your actor friends and feeling guilty you're not paying them union rates.
Now, there's a new service. The good people at iScript
will read your script out loud, and send you an mp3 of the recording, for $175. They were kind enough to do one for me. The reader was clear as a bell, and beautifully articulate. She put enough performance into the dialog to get the lines across, without getting heavy into "acting," which might have overwhelmed the reading. She didn't flub her lines, either, which is more than I could manage myself; they go through the recording to edit out any flubs. You can choose a man or a woman as your primary reader.
I was pleased to hear that the dialog worked -- the lines read the way I want them to, even when there are no stage directions.
Now bear in mind, you're not getting a dozen people performing your script as if it were a radio play. The same reader is reading the girl and the guy and all the stage directions. The service is reading your script out loud, not producing it.
The iScript people suggest that you can also offer the mp3 of your script to someone who might want to read it. That way they can "read" it in their car. I'm not sure how well this would work in practice. My script ran 97 minutes. (Pretty much exactly its page count, by the way.) Most studio execs are chatting on their cell phones all the way home. Would they listen to your script in the car instead of calling? Or in the bath? While cleaning? I don't know.
I do know that I probably read a script in 20-30 minutes, so 97 minutes is a long time for me to spend reading. But I know other people who spend 2 hours reading a script. So this might be ideal for them.
Check it out!