Just the push I needed

What are friends for?

Notes are coming in for the comedy spec, and reactions are pleasantly positive. My always-reliable readers have provided some extremely helpful notes, including an across-the-board opinion about a key plot point.

A lot of what they had to say made some good sense and are really helping solidify the script into something more-than-decent.

While they had nice things to say about the script, each reader threw in an extra little tidbit in the form of comments directed at the script’s writer.

AKA me.

“These two lines of dialogue are an anomaly compared to the rest of it. I know you can do better.”

“Great story, but I’d like to see you dig deeper.”

And these are comments from experienced writers who’ve read some of my other scripts, so they know what I’m capable of. They’re not just saying these things in a casual, generic feedback kind of way, or because they’re trying to be nice. They really mean it, and I take what they say to heart.

I thought the script was okay to begin with, but after getting comments like these, it makes me want to try even harder.

When you’re in the process of putting a script together, you really dedicate yourself to doing a good job, and then try to do better with each subsequent rewrite. It’s how we improve.

But it’s also kind of tough to be able to get yourself past a certain point. You think you’ve done everything you can, but then you get a bit of a supportive nudge and your journey resumes.

It’s quite the confidence booster to know there’s somebody out there rooting for you (especially somebody without a vested interest in you). They want to see you succeed just as much as you do. So you buckle down and throw yourself into making that next draft even better.

End result – you have a stronger script and their belief in you and your abilities is confirmed. Wins all around.

And when the time comes and they ask me for notes on their script, I have a strong suspicion I’ll be able to do the same for them.

No, I’m making all of this up

And here's another reason why you're wrong!
The louder I yell, the more you’ll agree with me

It’s probably safe to assume you’ve found yourself in this situation before:

A colleague asks you to read their material and give your thoughts on it. “Don’t hold back,” they say. “Be as brutal as you need to be. I can take it.”

So you read it, compile your notes (making sure to be critical, but fair and helpful) and send them off. Most of the time this results in one of two ways.

1. “These are great! Thank you so much!”


2. “What do you mean ____? How could you miss that? Did you even read the script?”

Urgh. I hate, hate, hate when they say that.

Did you want notes or gushing praise? You asked me for the former, but it sounds more like you secretly meant the latter, and now you’re not happy with the results.

If I think your script is good, I’ll say so and tell you why. On the other hand, I also won’t hesitate to point out what I think needs work, or if there’s something I didn’t understand.

There’s no need to remind me how much you’ve slaved over this for months/years, but I’m not going to say it’s good just to make you feel better. You know every single aspect of the story. I don’t, and only comment about what I can (or can’t) see on the page in front of me.

This doesn’t mean I’m a bad reader. Have you considered the remote possibility that your writing just might not be the perfection you think it is? I’ll fetch the smelling salts while that one sinks in.

Believe me, I’m not saying these things to be mean. You asked me for my opinion, and I gave it to you. There are professional analysts and consultants who do the exact same thing, and you’d pay them for it. Not everybody is going to love your script or pick up on every intricate detail you think is painfully obvious to any moron with half a brain.

If you put your script out there for review, you’d better be prepared for the worst. It’s an unfortunate part of how this works.

And one more important piece of advice: getting defensive or arguing with me because I didn’t like your script or “just don’t get it” isn’t going to change my mind, and will definitely make me not want to do this for you again.

My two cents. Apply accordingly.

Worth their weight in gold? Maybe.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy giving feedback on other people’s scripts. I’m definitely not a guru, but I think my advice is pretty solid.

I just finished a script that has a great concept at its root, but still needs a lot of work.  There are a lot of rookie mistakes, most of which are easily fixed, and I’ll make suggestions regarding the big stuff – story, structure, character development, etc.  I’m curious to know if the writer will implement any of my comments.  Of which there are a lot.

I don’t know if other writers experience this when reading somebody else’s work, but more than once I’d think, “how can they not know this is the wrong way to do this?”

Then I’d remind myself of two really important points – first, maybe they don’t know, so I’ll explain my comments as best I can, hopefully enough so the point gets across and it helps improves their writing, and second, feedback from a negative place doesn’t do anybody any good.  The recipient is less likely to give your opinion any merit and you come across as bitter and angry. (Check out the forums on Trigger Street to get a better idea of this.)

It’s possible to give constructive criticism without tearing somebody down, but it’s also up to the writer to understand any feedback they get is about making their work better, and not an attack on them personally.