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Friday, December 30, 2011

I got back a flip response to some feedback I gave someone. It boiled down to "I don't know why you would have that reaction to my script. I don't see that there's a problem where you say there is."

The general rule for feedback is: if someone tells you how to fix something, you aren't obliged to fix it that way. But if they tell you something is broken, you better fix it.

Your obligation is to figure out why your reader feels something is broken. You need to reread your own material through their perspective until you can see the flaw that they have spotted.

This takes emotional effort. Sometimes it takes a bit of time. It's not easy to shift out of your own perspective, from which your screenplay is just dandy.

But learning how to take criticism to heart is really one of the things that separates professionals from the perpetually aspiring.

It's a good idea not to respond to a critique at all until you can see the flaw. Otherwise you're just going to piss off your reader, who will wonder why you asked for feedback if you didn't want it. (For example, I'm kinda pissed off right now.)

When I get comment I disagree with on my own work, what I say is, "I'll take a look at that." And then I do. And, later, I usually realize the comment is right (if not the solution offered), I am wrong, and something is broken in the screenplay after all.

You can ask for a clarification -- "Are you saying that X is a problem, or do you mean that the problem is Y?"

But all feedback comes from somewhere. And that means that all feedback is true. Figuring out how it's true is the job of every good writer.



Just read this quote somewhere in the scriptosphere, paraphrasing:

"All criticisms are products of unmet expectations."

I think that perspective gets one to think about, as you say, why the reader has the criticism. What expectation did they have that wasn't met?

By Blogger Claude, at 3:17 AM  

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