Receiving Feedback

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Receiving Feedback

You've spent months on your script, and now it's time to show it to other people. But what if people hate it? Will you ever live it down?

Receiving feedback can be scary at first, but you won't grow as a writer until you plunge in and take this very important step. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. Eventually.

Take a deep breath, and follow these guidelines:

Make a distinction between your work and yourself. When someone points out a problem in your script, you don't need to take it to mean there's something wrong with you personally.

Avoid the temptation to shut down or to argue with the reviewer. Listen to what they have to say without explaining yourself. Remember, you have ultimate control over your script. Only you can decide what works for your script and what doesn't. You don't lose anything by listening. The best response to a review is, "Thank you."

Listening to others is different from implementing every suggestion. Some reviewers will give you terrific suggestions that fit your story perfectly and take it in the direction you want it to go. Great! Use those. Others will give you terrific suggestions—for a completely different story. Hmm. Skip their suggestions, but do look at your story again to see if it could have possibly led them astray. Learn to differentiate between useful suggestions, suggestions that aren't very useful but point to a problem, and totally useless suggestions.

If the feedback isn't clear, ask questions. Keep the questions pertinent and focused on the work. For example, if the reviewer says, "The scene between George and Becky is confusing," you may want to ask them to explain exactly where in the scene they got confused. Don't ask, "What do you mean it's confusing!?" That sounds defensive and gets everyone off track.

Avoid asking for feedback if you know what's wrong with your script. Fix any problems you are clear about first. When you ask for feedback, you're requesting someone's time and attention, so be considerate of them. Don't make them do unnecessary work.

Pay special attention to problems that multiple readers point out. If only one person out of several readers had a problem, you can probably ignore it. But if several readers bring up the same issue, then be sure to address it.

Concentrate on your screenplays and the clarity of your vision. In time, you'll learn to attach ever less importance to other people's opinions.



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