You’ve finished the latest draft of your latest project. You know it’s not perfect, but it’s probably better than the previous incarnation(s). Or at least hope it is.
In theory you’ve built up a network of reliable peers with skill levels comparable to yours, so you put the word out.
“If it’s not too much of a hassle and you have the time, would you be so kind as to take a look at this?”
Some will have to decline, but others are more than happy to oblige. You, of course, offer to return the favor if the need should arise.
So you send it off and do your best to not think about it.
Days or weeks pass, and then the notes begin to trickle in.
Thoughtful questions about story and character are asked. Typos you didn’t realize you missed are highlighted. Details you had not even considered are pointed out. Everything geared towards helping you make your script better.
These other writers, struggling to succeed just as much as you, don’t hesitate to offer their encouragement.
That’s one scenario. Here’s another.
The notes come across as angry, impatient and frustrated. Even worse, your script is criticized. Metaphorically torn to shreds.
“This makes no sense!” “I don’t get it.” “WTF?” “Bored now.”
This is helpful?
I’ve read my share of scripts that needed a lot of work, with the writers having come to me for help. If I see what I consider a problem, I’ll identify it and make suggestions of how it could be fixed, leaving the final decisions up to the writer. Nor will I hesitate to mention something that works or that I enjoyed.
I try to make it a positive experience, and am not out to make anybody feel stupid or inadequate. (We all do that just fine on our own.) Responses usually read along the lines of “These are great! Thanks so much!” and are taken at face value.
It really bothers me when somebody is excessively negative and claims “I’m just doing the same thing the industry does.” But you’re not in the industry, let alone a screenwriting guru. You’re trying to break in, just like me.
I’m not looking for lavish praise about my work, and I honestly don’t expect it. If you like the script, great. But I want to make it better, and to do that I need help, and that’s what I’m hoping you’ll provide.