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Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Giving Feedback

Learning to Give Feedback is IMPORTANT

If writers want to get taken seriously by industry pros, then one important skill is learning to give feedback.

Yes, you read that right — GIVE feedback (not just receive it)!!!

The reason for learning how to give feedback is three-fold. It helps you …

In short, learning how to give feedback properly is for writers who want to get to the NEXT LEVEL!

But sadly, there’s lots of writers out there who are trying to do this, but screwing it up royally. If you hang around in writing spaces on social media, you will no doubt have seen some of these feedback cock-ups below. I know I have! Let’s go …

1) Highjacking Another Writer’s Vision

Look, we get it – it might seem OBVIOUS to you how the story has missed opportunities, or that writing a story *that* way just doesn’t work. But writers may be too close to their work, which is why they’re asking for your help, **not** your condemnation. Your job is not to give solutions per se, but provide a springboard for the writers’ OWN ideas!

2) Forgetting writing is about DEVELOPMENT

No one can write a first draft that’s top-notch straight off the bat. NO ONE. Sure, some writers will create first drafts that are better than others; others will be absolutely awful. It’s **not** your job then to express surprise or disappointment that the draft is not “better”. This helps no one, least of all the writer. In fact, it’s demotivating.

3) Thinking your job is to FIX writing

We’re back to number 1 on this list again, essentially. Opinions on what “works” and what “doesn’t” are just that – opinions. There are multiple ways of looking at story and characters and forgetting that is a huuuuuuuuuuuge error when giving feedback. But more than this, the best feedback-givers FACILITATE writing, they don’t “fix” it.

4) Not having the vocabulary to explain the issues to the writer

There’s a reason new feedback-givers focus on little niggly things like screenplay format, such as HOW the script looks on the page. They may also focus on strange little details to do with the story – random, tiny moments, as opposed to elements that might actually DEVELOP the story and its characters.

Put bluntly, this is usually because the feedback-giver doesn’t know what s/he is doing. Sure, we all have to start somewhere, but if you want to be taken seriously as a student of the craft? You have to get the skillz – and QUICKLY.

5) Forgetting these are people’s hopes and dreams

Yes, the work in front of you might be awful in your opinion. But someone worked hard on it, sacrificing time, money and more to do it. Remember: these are NOT just spec screenplays and unpublished novels … These are people’s hopes and dreams!!! Forget this at your peril.

Want Even MORE Script Reading Secrets?

If you want to learn more about giving AND receiving feedback, then enrol in Breaking Into Script Reading. We’ll be talking about all these things mentioned in this blog post and LOTS more besides. If you’re interested in …

  • becoming a script reader, or
  • seeing how your writing is judged ‘behind the scenes’ or
  • both!

Then this is the course for you. As ever, the course is on Zoom meaning it’s accessible from anywhere — plus with video replay for a year, you can take it on your own schedule at your own pace if you prefer. (You can ask me Qs and do your homework whenever you like in that time, so you won’t miss out on the interactive part with me).

So, to enrol in the course CLICK HERE or hit the pic on the right.

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5 thoughts on “Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Giving Feedback”

  1. Would you consider doing a script reading class in the United States, or perhaps doing an online class? I love your writing tips. Thank you!

    1. Hello Cheryl, so glad you like the tips! Yes we are thinking of doing an online version of this class, watch this space for more details — will announce when I know something! 😀

  2. Being too vague is also pretty unhelpful to writers. “I give it a B” is nice, but doesn’t tell them anything. “I didn’t care about Bobby” is better. I think it’s best to stick to the effect the script had on you and pretty much avoid ideas on how to fix it altogether. The writer knows exactly what they meant to do to you, the audience. If you say “I didn’t understand why Clara said that” it’s probably way better than “I thought Clara should have said this” because the writer knows Clara a lot better than you but they do need to know if her actions are coming off as random. That’s something they can use.

  3. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…I need this after just managing to calm my nerves and regain my confidence as I recently asked for feedback on a sitcom pilot, there were couple of readers who were wonderfully constructive and helped me identify problems that I hadn’t seen that caused plot holes this was great and thanks to them my current draft is a million times better. But there were a couple that frankly scared the living shit out of me, one became aggressive when I asked for clarification on their feedback, they snapped they hadn’t the time to explain. But then continued asking what I was doing with the script and asked if they could read the next draft. They scare me, and I’m still scared now. Another gave me a plot that they had decided would work better, which wasn’t in the draft, worse yet they took an adult female lead character and infantilized her into something i hadn’t written either, it was borderline paedophile. I had a similar experience on a screenwriting course at Uni, a tutor insisting we write characters as he saw them and would humiliate students who didn’t.

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