Thick skin? Try bulletproof

I’ve been reading and writing scripts for some time now. I’ve had limited success with original material, so I have a fair idea what works and what doesn’t.  I can read a script and quickly reach a conclusion regarding whether or not the writer knows what they’re doing.

Stuff from the Black List?  For the most part, top-notch, quality stuff.

Trigger Street?  Not so much.

I’ve read three scripts so far, and each one was poorly written.  There’s no other way to say it. Part of the deal is that I’m supposed to offer constructive criticism to the writer, which I try to do.  I don’t sugarcoat anything, but I also don’t savagely tear the thing to shreds.  I want to be entertained, but if reading a script is more like a chore, then I’m going to point what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed.

I received this email in response to a script I read last week:

“Try and add a couple of positive thoughts into your reviews. It might stop authors from quitting their game. Unfortunately for you, I’m more resistant to slander. Most authors rare (sic) not, however. I hope when you release your personal screenplays, people are more apathetic.”

I hate to break it to this person, but if they want to be a screenwriter and MY critique hurts their feelings, then they better stock up on Kleenex and pints of Ben & Jerry’s.  Yes, writing a good script is hard, but if you can’t take constructive criticism, then you’re in trouble.

I’ve heard it numerous times:  YOUR WORK HAS TO BE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.  You may think it is, but trust me. It isn’t.

When I joined my first writing group, I thought my script was great. When I got it back, almost completely covered in red comments, I was devastated.  How could they?  After I calmed down, I re-read their comments.  I came to realize that each one had merit and would actually help make the script better.  I still had a lot to learn.

I’ve been writing for a good number of years, and have slowly built up a resistance to comments.  Every writer has the option of being selective about which comments to consider. While it’s nice to get raves and positive feedback, sometimes heeding the ones that start with “you might want to consider…” is actually better because they are trying to HELP YOU MAKE YOUR SCRIPT BETTER.

And I don’t want somebody reading my script to be apathetic. I want to know what works, what doesn’t, and why.

I’m a big boy. I can take it.

One thought on “Thick skin? Try bulletproof

  1. If that email was indicative of the kind of writing found in that person’s script, then it’s clear they’re clueless and will flail around forever. You’re spot on here, Paul: constructive criticism is key. Personally, I don’t care if someone tells me that what I’ve written sucks (I mean, sure, I want to hear it’s great, but I’m not delusional) — I just want to know *why* they feel that way, and how the writing can be improved.

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