Constructive criticism – a force for good

If I can't hear you, then it's not true
If I can’t hear you, then it must not be true

If you met someone who does the same thing you do, but has been doing it longer and with more success, wouldn’t you ask them for advice on how you could get to their level, and more importantly, heed that advice?

While I’m not a professional writer (yet), others, mostly on the newer side, will ask me for feedback on their script.  If I have the time, I’ll do it, and offer up what guidance and suggestions I can.

My notes are sent with the reminder that these are just my opinions to do with as they see fit. Fortunately, most of the responses have been positive and appreciative.

But once in a while, somebody will disagree with what I’ve said or totally ignore it. That’s their choice. They came to me seeking help, and I guess didn’t like what I had to say.

I once asked somebody what kind of material it was, and the answer was long-winded and very academic. While they were droning on, I couldn’t help but think “If they tried to pitch this to a producer, that meeting would probably be over right about now.”

Asking another writer for their logline, I got what sounded more like the short paragraph you’d see on the back of a novel. I tried a few different approaches, each time hoping to point them in the right direction as well as coax out some of the creativity they claimed to have. No such luck. After offering up what you do and don’t want to have in a logline, the response was a curt “Got it. Thanks.”  Can’t say I didn’t try.

Part of me wonders if my advice would be taken more seriously if I charged for it.

You came to me for help, remember? Just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean it’s not true.

I’m not trying to be mean. Quite the opposite. There are hard truths about this business that some people just refuse to acknowledge. All of us who came before you learned them the hard way, and if you want to make it, then you’re going to have to do the same.

The writing gods are testing me. Again.

I got an email from the person who had me ‘rewrite’ their script last month.

They want to know if I could look at the latest draft and ‘make any necessary changes,’ but ‘without drastically changing the direction of the story.’

Now, I’m always up for a good project, but the last I saw, this script really needed a lot of work.  Basically, a page one rewrite was in order.

That was a month ago, so I don’t know how much progress, if any, has been made on subsequent drafts. I’m happy to help out, but if I see that none of my suggestions have been implemented, I may have to be a little more harsh in my critiquing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting I’m the end-all and be-all when it comes to screenwriting.  I just think I have a pretty firm grasp on the basics, or at least a little more than some.

Such as knowing who the main character is supposed to be.  Things like that.

Just to be on the safe side, I sent them the plot point breakdown sheet I always use. Hopefully they’ll apply it to their script with positive results.

It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.

The only downside to helping somebody else is less time for my own stuff.  I haven’t been able to do anything on DREAMSHIP in at least a week, maybe more, and it’s driving me crazy.

But I’m not scheduled to work any extra hours this week, which gives me some more time to work on their script and mine.  But I’m also in the process of lining up some freelance (non-script) writing projects, so that also takes away from working on my stuff.

Somehow, I will work my way through all of this and come out triumphant (and possibly well-compensated).  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

No Movie of the Moment. I’ve been too frikkin’ busy.