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Your Feedback Sucks

March 20, 2013

Feedback is vital to the evolution of a competent screenplay. A writer can become too close to a screenplay and benefit from an objective viewpoint. Feedback can let a screenwriter know that the scene the writer was wondering about is, in fact, worth wondering about. Feedback can be excellent and extremely helpful. Another’s perspective is a useful tool. But, one must always weigh the merits of that other perspective, because, sometimes…

Your Feedback Sucks!

Dear Angry Me,
It’s not their fault; they’re not you.
Less Angry Me

Dear Less Angry Me,
You wrote in saying “It’s not their fault.” You couldn’t be more wrong! It’s all their fault!
Angry (but slightly less due to venting) Me

Let’s examine why Your Feedback Sucks!
(because in the examination process, I’m willing to be enlightened to the aspects of your feedback that don’t suck)

I must admit, more of your feedback was useful than not. You might applaud yourself for this, but don’t be so fast. One piece of shitty feedback (that manages to trick me into thinking it is worthwhile) can set me back WAY TOO MUCH. So, stop trying to trick me into thinking every piece of feedback is a jewel. If YOU are not sure about your feedback, let me know. Do not assert that every piece of feedback you’ve given is sage wisdom – it is not. We all make mistakes, including you. (And, perhaps me, in the writing of this post.)

I’m a Lazy Reader Feedback

This is where a reader reads too fast and does not pay enough attention. It is characterized by questions like, “How do I know this?” when the information was a mere single page earlier. The good news is that if you communicate with this type of feedback giver enough, it will most likely become apparent to you (the non-lazy writer/reader) what they are. Comments like, “Oh, I missed that” are tell tale signs. Unfortunately, comments such as the aforementioned can also mean you (the writer) did not convey something well enough. Specifically “that.” When met with such a situation, it can be helpful to delve further, in order to find out if the reader is lazy or you (the writer) failed to properly convey something. Both can be true, but they are mutually exclusive. If you write complex screenplays, the lazy reader feedback giver can be the bane of your existence.

The Scene Stands Alone Feedback

Right now, as I write this, is the exact moment I’ve come to an epiphany regarding a piece of scene-specific feedback. It’s glorious! The reader not only says to change a scene, but gives specific changes they seek. Potentially, way too many specific changes. They want the location of the scene changed. They want the characters in the scene changed. They tell you the scene would work better if you did this. But, the scene does not stand alone! If you made you all these changes, it would have a ripple effect reverberating throughout the entire screenplay. In essence, it would change the whole screenplay. You know why? Because they don’t have a problem with the scene, they have a problem with the screenplay. And, they don’t even realize it. They try to somehow project their macro issues into a micro scene, but I see through it, because THE SCENE DOES NOT STAND ALONE! In this case, I’m ignoring your feedback, because I think it’s wrong. And, as a psychiatrist (although not professionally ordained), I think you might have some deep seeded issues that you need to address. (Dear future self, remember this sage wisdom – it will help you one day.)

Asking for a Specific that is Not Vital to the Story

A screenplay is an economically concise document that contains everything it NEEDS to and nothing more. Details are important, to a degree. But, every last question you have is not necessarily intended for me (the writer). Some of your questions are intended for the make-up department, the director or someone else who is not me. Please realize this and stop wasting both of our time.

One Comment
  1. This is awesome. I share your sentiments completely. On the other hand, all feedback, even if it’s bad feedback, is good. You don’t have to take their questions and comments at face value. I find it is useful to dig into the reason behind why they asked a certain question (even if their question sucks). For example, if they say, “I don’t get why he was holding X”. Other than whatever this character is holding, your writing might not be grabbing enough– why are they focusing on X instead of the story?

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