Your Trusted Circle Of Readers

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Your Trusted Circle Of Readers

No writer should be without a trusted circle of readers. You may get loving support from your mom or your best friend when they read your drafts, and that's well and good. Besides and beyond validation, however, you need to surround yourself with clear-thinking readers who are willing and able to give candid feedback.

"Find and keep very dear anyone who tells it like it is," says writer/director Joy Perino. "Honest—not mean or fawning—feedback is precious and very hard to come by." If you're taking a screenwriting class and there's a classmate whose work you admire, suggest an exchange. Approach a former writing instructor you've stayed in contact with. Or consider joining a critiquing group. Find one by going where writers hang out—bookstores, cafes, the library—and looking for or posting a notice. If you can't find a group in your area, consider joining one online.

A few precautions, however. Avoid critique groups that only tell you how wonderful you are, as well as the ones where everyone tears everyone else down. Both types exist. Neither approach is helpful. Join a working group, not a social club. Make sure there's a submission schedule and a minimum critiquing requirement, and that the group actually sticks to it. Even if you have to join a group of non-screenwriters, you can make it work if you all give great feedback and are supportive and consistent. I was a member of just such a group for three years, and I learned an awful lot. To help us all out, I wrote up a screenplay critiquing primer and introduced everyone to the screenplay format. It worked really well for us.

Building your trusted circle of readers takes time, but once you do, you won't know how you ever lived without those precious people. Don't forget to them in your Oscar® acceptance speech.



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