#1. Imagine the trailer. Is the concept marketable?
#2. Is the premise naturally intriguing — or just average, demanding perfect execution?
#3. Who is the target audience? Would your parents go see it?
#4. Does your story deal with the most important events in the lives of your characters?
#5. If you’re writing about a fantasy-come-true, turn it quickly into a nightmare-that-won’t-end.
#6. Does the screenplay create questions: will he find out the truth? Did she do it? Will they fall in love? Has a strong ‘need to know’ hook been built into the story?
#7. Is the concept original?
#8. Is there a goal? Is there pacing? Does it build?
#9. Begin with a punch, end with a flurry.
#10. Is it funny, scary, or thrilling? All three?
#11. What does the story have that the audience can’t get from real life?
#12. What’s at stake? Life and death situations are the most dramatic. Does the concept create the potential for the characters lives to be changed?
#13. What are the obstacles? Is there a sufficient challenge for our heroes?
#14. What is the screenplay trying to say, and is it worth trying to say it?
#15. Does the story transport the audience?
#16. Is the screenplay predictable? There should be surprises and reversals within the major plot, and also within individual scenes.
#17. Once the parameters of the film’s reality are established, they must not be violated. Limitations call for interesting solutions.
#18. Is there a decisive, inevitable, set-up ending that is nonetheless unexpected? (This is not easy to do!)
#19. Is it believable? Realistic?
#20. Is there a strong emotion — heart — at the center of the story? Avoid mean-spirited storylines.