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HOW TO HANDLE SCREENWRITING FEEDBACK

HOW TO HANDLE SCREENWRITING FEEDBACK

You don’t get through screenwriting without your work receiving a bit of criticism here and there.

Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s very advisable to have other people – experienced writers, readers or producers – give it a read and give you some feedback. The feedback will be depending on the amount of homework you did before writing. So if you really digested story fundamentals and the screenwriting essentials, chances are people will have better things to say about your screenplay. If you’re lacking in some areas, they’ll let you know.

As a new screenwriter, it can sometimes be hard to take these comments in. I get you. “This screenplay is my baby! I spent a lot of time, effort, maybe even tears just to lay down this story across a hundred or so pages! I’ll be damned if some bloke would just tell me that some parts of my baby sucks! They just don’t understand! Who the hell do they think they are?!”

Well, truth be told, these are some things that you have to learn to accept as you venture into screenwriting. It’s a part of the process, and the trick is to change the way you think about other people giving you feedback.

Here’s a few notes on how you can handle feedback and use it to your advantage:

  • DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED TO YOUR WORK

Like I said, I know it’s your baby. But even parents can’t get way too attached to their children. Overprotectiveness restricts the growth potential of a kid because it gets them used to the idea that someone’s always there to depend on, even when it comes to the smallest things. Wasn’t that the problem between Marlin and Nemo in Finding Nemo?

Enough parental talk. The point is that the same goes for your work. If you get too attached to it, you have a tendency to “overprotect” your script from any comments that will help improve it. The “They just don’t understand!” usually comes in through this mindset where you do everything to see to it that your “vision” is not tampered with. While this may serve your ego, this won’t serve your script; you try to submit your draft to a producer or a competition without listening to feedback, or even avoiding it altogether, and it ends up becoming nothing.

  • GET FEEDBACK FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES

Not all readers will have the exact same opinion about your script. A scene you wrote may look as if God typed it for one reader but may be an abomination to another.

The important thing here is that you get multiple points of view. Get as many people to read and comment on your script, then look at the most common notes they give. If many readers tell you that this scene doesn’t work, cut it out. If only 1 out of 15 readers tell you that the dialogue in a particular scene doesn’t pop, don’t dismiss it immediately. Give it a second look too. But if more readers take notice of that one scene that didn’t feel right, then you know where you should take a closer look at.

  • LEARN TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM AND HOLLOW BASHING

I’ve seen rants on the internet from writers who are upset that there are people who call them idiots for writing what they wrote.

“An 11-year old can write this!” “Just give up writing if this is all you can write!” “Are you so stupid that you can’t notice…”

Good grief, the internet can be brutal.

It’s easy to get affected by statements like those above, but it’s just as easy for those who say things like that to type something with absolutely nothing substantial about it.

Learn to choose who you listen to. Separate the ones who spew nonsense and the ones who actually have something that can help you. It’s a waste of time to tell bashers to just cut it. The more you do, the more it fuels them. And remember: if all they’re doing is bashing, it must be that their own works are trash. Even if their works are good, if they feel like bashing others, there must be something really screwed up in their lives that their only source of happiness is talking trash to others over the internet. So just ignore them, take the word of those who actually have something to say, and use their feedback to improve your work.

Always keep in mind that if you seek help from people, they’re usually willing to help you out. You’d be surprised at how generous people are! So don’t be afraid of feedback. If you want to take your screenwriting skills to the next level, actively seek feedback all the time.

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