Scott the Reader, in Alligators in a Helicopter
, talks about keeping an open mind about reader feedback:
So the What If. What if this reader is right, and this might be a more interesting option? Where could that lead? Is that better? What about what that reader said; wouldn't that go with this other suggestion, and make that whole segment of the script tighter and more interesting?
I think this is the key to the whole feedback debate. It's not about blindly taking the suggestions of someone who may or may not know what is best for your script, but letting these suggestions (which generally are inspired by some flaw in your script, real or perceived) lead you to where the What If? is. Where the choice in your script is, that really turns out not to be as tightly-stitched as you thought it was.
My acting teacher Joanne Baron used to say "Find the truth." Meaning, it's easy to find an excuse to reject criticism. But critiquing the criticism gets you nowhere. Find what's true about the criticism; assume there's a nugget of gold in there.
I like Scott's idea because he's using feedback (in this case from civilians) not as marching orders, but as an opportunity to see his script with new eyes. What if you were to take this reader's suggestion seriously ... where would that lead you.
That's why my response to notes that sound horribly wrong is "we'll take a look at that" and not "here's why you're an idiot." What sounds wrong while you're defending your script sometimes turns into a valuable approach when you're actually trying it out. So why not try it out?
All true, but at the same time, think of Sports Night, and Isaac Jaffe's response to network executives telling him that the notes they were sending were falling on deaf ears:
"Just because all the notes weren't executed doesn't mean we weren't listening! You didn't expect me to trade in my judgement for yours, did you?"
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