If you’re an aspiring screenwriter or novelist, you probably already know how costly it is to get your screenplay or novel reviewed by paid professionals who will give your material the critique that it needs. You could ask your friends, your family, or even your loved one to review it as an alternative but the truth is they probably don’t know much about what to look for to begin with (unless they are a paid professional) and they will feel obliged to positively critique your work anyway. So that’s out.
There’s quite a few different free options you could choose from in order to your screenplay or novel reviewed by people just like yourself. American Zoetrope Virtual Studio is a site that works in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola’s production company American Zoetrope. Zoetrope.com is basically a place where screenwriters and novelists alike reciprocate each other’s work. For every four scripts or stories that you review, you get to submit one script or story. All submissions on Zoetrope.com have already been copyrighted and/or registered with the Writers Guild of America beforehand and it is highly advised that you do the same thing before submitting. I’m not saying people at Zoetrope.com are the type of people who will steal other’s work, I personally have never had that problem as a member, but it just makes sense to claim your copyright beforehand.
Your submission will remain live on the site for thirty days. You will be able to track how many people have opened the script, how many reviews you have, and how many people opted out. They even have rating scales for Character, Plot, Quality of Writing, Originality, Cinematic Quality, and Overall. After the 30 days is up, your submissions and their reviews will remain on your account for you to view as often as you please so long as you remain a member, they just won’t be live anymore.
Zoetrope.com has sections for Short Stories, Screenplays, Novellas, Short Scripts, Poetry, Flash Fiction, Songwriting, Film Scoring, Sound Design, Photos, Costumes, Storyboards, Scene Design, and Graphics. Zoetrope.com is a very well put together community of movie heads, filmgoers, and industry professionals alike. Some people have their foot in the door but aren’t quite there yet, some have had success, some aren’t even in the game yet. Zoetrope.com’s community is diverse and multifaceted. As a member you can join groups or Private Offices as they label them, you could even start your own, discuss whatever you want.
I personally have been a member with Zoetrope.com for almost 10 years now. It is perhaps the most resourceful website if you are looking to get your screenplay or novel reviewed by like-minded people. Mind you, everybody on Zoetrope.com has different tastes and views so I have to warn you that you may get some negative comments, no matter how good your script is. However, the majority of reviews and people I have talked with on Zoetrope.com are very nice and intellectual people whom all have one common goal: Hollywood.
Another free website that has a section for screenplays as well as novels is Triggerstreet.com. I personally don’t have much experience with that website so I can’t comment. However, at the end of the day, no matter which free website you choose, it is best advised to pay a professional script or book doctor when it comes down to it. I would recommend trying Zoetrope.com for a while, knock out as many drafts as you can, once you have the most polished draft, take it to the script or book doctor.