In a few conversations with writers and industry-connected folk, I’ve mentioned how I occasionally do script notes for friends and read for contests.
Sometimes I’d get a “That’s really nice of you.”
And once in a while, the person would look puzzled, and ask, with what I presume was in all sincerity, “Why?”
The way they utter that monosyllable carries a strong tone of “Well, that sounds like a genuine waste of time.”
To which I say, “Why not?” I consider myself a nice person, and try to help other writers out when I can.
Too simplistic? Let me elaborate.
I like reading other people’s stuff. In the case of doing notes, I’m either asked, or it’s reciprocal for them having given me notes on my scripts. That’s the least I can do.
(It should also be pointed out that a few cookies-for-notes transactions have taken place, with both parties being quite satisfied with the results.)
With a lot of the material I read being from experienced writers who know what they’re doing, the scripts are often quite solid from both craft and storytelling perspectives. This in turn helps me hone my analytical skills, which I can then apply to my scripts. Or at least attempt to.
Plus, screenwriters should always be reading scripts.
Regarding the contests, I’ve entered enough of them over the years with the hope I get a quality reader or readers, so I see this as a kind of giving back. It’s very time and labor-intensive, and I’ve had to endure more than my fair share of poor-to-horribly-written scripts. On the other hand, every once in a while you find a true rose among thorns.
I’m just trying to offer up the kind of help I could have benefitted from when I was still learning the basics. And even today, having made some progress on all fronts, I still seek out, as well as offer up when asked, advice and guidance. So far, no complaints.
I’ve never claimed to be an expert, but I do what I can. If that means setting aside some time to read something and offer up my two cents, so be it.
And I don’t see anything wrong with that.