If you’re involved in Create50 (if not, WHY NOT?? It’s a great opportunity!), then you will know the cornerstone of the initiative is giving others feedback on their entries for @Londonswf‘s second crowd-sourced feature film The Impact, as well its first volume of short stories, Twisted.
However, giving good feedback is not only an artform in itself, so is RECEIVING IT. With this in mind, I composed a list of 6 reminders for all writers, whether they’re dishing it, getting it or BOTH:
1) You are the authority on your own work
This is the key element of dealing with ANY feedback, good OR bad. A good script reader or feedback-giver does not highjack the writer’s vision and try to make it their own. They understand the writer knows what’s best for their story. So if you ever receive notes that don’t seem to realise this? Thank the giver, but IGNORE THEM. MORE: Top 10 Writing Misconceptions
2) Sometimes, it’s about weighing it up
Writers now live in an age where it’s accepted that feedback is necessary. This is great, because YES, it *is* necessary. However, now we have a NEW problem because *some* writers love notes SO MUCH they tinker endlessly with their drafts in the mistaken belief that this automatically makes their drafts BETTER, when it doesn’t always.
Get this: you don’t have to take ALL notes on board. Some notes will be stinky. In addition, sometimes, you might get a really great note, but it won’t be applicable to your vision for your story and characters. AND THAT’S OKAY. MORE: How To Deal With Feedback
3) Feedback isn’t always agenda-free
This is a re-run of point 1, in effect. Always comb through any notes you get for an agenda. Good feedback is about FACILITATING the writer’s own ideas, not trying to get the story told the giver’s “way”. MORE: 5 Ways To Use Feedback Effectively
4) Sometimes, it’s not WHAT’S said, but HOW it’s said
We all hear a lot about the vitriolic script report that eviscerates the writer. This can happen in peer review a lot, but thankfully, professional script readers are usually better than this nowadays.
But this is the thing. A writer is not always the best judge of their own feedback. This is because you’re so close to your characters and story.
So if you find yourself feeling angry or hurt by your feedback, it’s a GOOD idea to get someone else to look at it. They may be able to confirm that yes, this feedback SUCKS! and the giver is indeed an arsehole. OR that other person may be able to make you see that actually, the feedback has some valid points to make. MORE: 5 Ways To Evaluate Your Feedback
5) Rewriting is where the magic happens
Often when I give notes, writers are despondent and say things like, “I thought this draft was the one.” In other words, they want me to tell their draft is BRILLIANT and they can take it out there.This nearly always happens with early drafts. I’ve done it myself. You’re feeling so inspired and so pleased with yourself, you think you hit the bullseye first time (or near to it).
But this is nearly always a mistake. Never forget great writing is always rewritten. Don’t be scared of the rewrite process. You might write really great early drafts and if you do, brilliant! But they can always be better. Don’t close this off, just because you don’t want to have to put the work in. MORE: All About Rewriting & Feedback
6) You have to have the guts to finish
This is perhaps the most important element of the writing process. Too many writers sabotage THEMSELVES by not realising when their draft is done! Instead, they write and rewrite endlessly, thinking they’re doing good work when in reality, they’re just moving words around on the page.
DON’T do this! Instead, have the GUTS to finish and the GUTS to move on to your next great piece of work. It’s the only way forwards in developing both your writing AND your career. So do it or go home!! MORE: 5 Ways To Keep Up Stamina For Rewrites (And How To Know When It’s Done)
Need more writing guidance?
For more on writing and feedback, check out my books from Creative Essentials, Writing & Selling The Thriller Screenplay, as well as its follow up on Drama Screenplays. See all my books, HERE.