Finding the positive in a negative

 

Converting something acidic to tasty and refreshing requires a little bit of knowing how
Converting potentially acidic to tastily refreshing requires a little bit of knowing how

Notes on both my western and mystery-comedy specs have been flowing in steadily from friends and trusted colleagues over the past couple of months, and the results have certainly been a mixed bag of opinions.

The general message is “Love the concept, solid structure, but ____, ____ and ____ needs work.” The individual comments, of course, are much more assorted. Happily, none are of the “This sucks! Do the world a favor and give up writing!” nature.

Show the same material to half a dozen people, and you’ll end up with half a dozen different reactions. And as you would expect, each one is helpful in its own way, especially if it includes something you may not necessarily agree with.

But here’s where it gets even better – take all of those notes and use the ones that you think make the most sense. Apply them to your script. Does it immediately read better?

Now let’s take it a step further, but this time with those comments you don’t agree with. What is about them that doesn’t work for you? Give ’em another look. Maybe there’s something in there worth using.

I got some great notes on the western, and one of the suggestions was cutting or at least shortening some sequences in Act Two. Of course, my initial reaction was “Not a chance!”

But this was defeating the whole purpose of getting notes – to make the script better. And me being so obstinate about it wasn’t helping.

So I read it again, this time with a more open mind. Would this work? Would it accomplish what I needed it to? The suggestion started to make sense. I’d already cut 12 pages out of this thing, so there was no reason I couldn’t trim a few scenes down. It wouldn’t hurt the story, and could actually improve it in terms of moving things along.

You get notes to help point out what’s wrong with your script, or at least what needs to be fixed. You can use them however you want, but to totally disregard them isn’t doing you any favors.

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