Currently working my way through the latest draft of the horror-comedy. It’s coming along nicely, primarily due to the incredibly helpful notes I’ve received from my readers.
It’s been a mixed bag of comments – loved this, this kind of fell flat for me, didn’t understand this, maybe try a different approach on this. While I may not agree with all of them, each one has merit and is worth taking into consideration. A lot of them involve ideas and suggestions I hadn’t considered, let alone thought of.
It’s tough to evaluate your own script. You know the story you’re trying to tell, so how you interpret what’s on the page is going to be completely different from how everybody else does. You “hear” a line of dialogue being spoken in that character’s voice in the way you imagined them saying it, whereas a reader will see…words on a page.
This is really what it comes down to: NOTES HELP YOU SEE WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT BE SEEING.
Remember – You might not like what the reader has to say, but the whole point is to help you make your script as solid a piece of work as you can. It’s tough, but don’t take it personally. They’re critiquing the work, not you.
A few years back, I gave a writer some extensive notes on a script that had a great premise but the execution of the story needed a lot of work – especially in terms of really showcasing what the premise was all about.
About a week after I’d sent my notes, they responded by telling me they were initially angry and upset about what I had to say, but then they went back and read my notes again. Upon that second review, they couldn’t argue with what I said, and were grateful that my notes helped them realize that.
Notes should be about helping you shape your script into what you want it to be. Be wary of readers whose notes are about changing your script so it matches the story they think it should be.
There are also going to be notes that completely miss the point. Maybe the reader was having an off day. Maybe they’re not a fan of this genre. Maybe they lost interest and just skimmed. All of these are possibilities, and have been known to happen. There’s not much you can do besides say “thanks” and move on.
Which brings up another point – no matter how you feel about the notes, especially if they don’t seem to be very helpful – is to BE POLITE AND THANK THE READER FOR DOING THIS. They took time out of their schedule to help you out, so the least you can do is thank them.
DO NOT berate them with a rant of “How dare you doubt my genius?!” It’s not a good look.
And if a swap is involved, make sure to hold up your end of the bargain. I speak from experience as one who’s been burned.
In the end, this is your script to do with what you will. Find a reader whose opinion you trust and let them know what it is you’re looking for. Help with the story? Characters? Dialogue? Grammar and punctuation? They and their notes are here to help you.
Let them do that so you can reap the benefits.
(please note that paying for notes was not discussed because it’s an entirely different topic for another time)