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Why Getting Script Feedback Is Often A Waste Of Time

 

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by Script Reader Pro in Screenwriting Courses, Script Coverage
January 8, 2015 95 comments
feedback on scripts

In this post we’d like to write about a common cycle of events an aspiring screenwriter often finds themselves stuck in regarding script feedback. Maybe you’ll find it familiar. And if so, maybe you’d be interested to hear what our solution is. So, let’s get to it!

Here’s The Common Scenario Involving Getting Feedback On Scripts:

An aspiring screenwriter finishes a script. Let’s call her “Mandy”.

She thinks it’s pretty damn great. A LOT of hard work has gone into it after all. It must be great. Or pretty near great anyway.

What next?

Proud of her achievement, Mandy sends the script to a friend in the industry or script consultant to take a look at.

She awaits with growing anxiety for their honest script feedback. And then, a week or so later, it arrives…

Script Recommendation: PASS

Writer Recommendation: PASS

Hmm…

And, along with this PASS, they give her A TON of notes on why…

The dialogue is too “on-the-nose”.

The structure is “all over the place”.

The writing style is “flat”.

The characters are “two-dimensional”.

etc. etc.

This is quite a kick in the guts for Mandy…

All of that hard work, all of those hours writing, all of that energy spent finishing the damn script, only to hear “it’s not good enough”.

After a week spent recovering from this setback, Mandy manages to muster up the strength to return to the script for the rewrite.

She follows the guidelines laid out in the notes, and spends a few weeks rewriting the script to “iron out the logic issues”, make the protagonist “more interested in his or her goal”, take out the unnecessary uncle in Act Two, etc.

When all is said and done, Mandy sends the script back to the consultancy or friend in the industry to review once again.

One week later, back come the notes. With baited breath her eyes go immediately to the reader recommendations…

Script Recommendation: PASS

Writer Recommendation: PASS

Or at best, it’s now a WEAK CONSIDER.

Now, this process of rewriting and sending back for notes, goes on for months with the same script for many aspiring writers.

Hundreds of dollars are spent in this quest to become a better writer and complete the perfect screenplay.

But There’s A Flaw To This Method Of Getting A Script Review…

And the flaw is this:

The writer is continually trying to improve a multi-flawed script rather than first improving their basic screenwriting skills.

There is absolutely no point in keep paying someone to evaluate a script if you haven’t mastered the basics, such as how to write a scene, how to write effective dialogue, writing style, sequences etc.

  • A script full of scenes with no real direction or structure is never going to get more than a PASS.
  • A script full of clunky, on-the-nose dialogue signifies one thing: “I Am A Novice Screenwriter” and will probably drag a script down to a PASS.
  • A script with a flat, uninspiring writing style that doesn’t put you in the action will always tip the reader off that they’re not reading material by someone who knows what they’re doing.

And so on.

If you haven’t mastered naturalistic sounding dialogue, a clean, evocative writing style, compelling concepts etc. then much of the notes will be taken up by these things.

It’s The Same With Many Professional Musicians

script feedback

When they start out they might spend a year or more just learning scales and nothing else. Not a trace of melody or improvisation.

Well, we think that’s an approach we think more aspiring screenwriters should take regarding the script review process.

Unless you have some kind of innate genius for writing, chances are you would benefit hugely from laying a strong foundation to your ability by spending some time on screenwriting exercises rather than just blindly writing screenplays and sending then off for evaluation.

The fact is there are a number of hands-on, non-theoretical exercises that smart screenwriters used when they were starting out to become better writers. IN TANDEM with the writing of screenplays.

Once you’ve nailed dialogue, writing style, structure etc. through these exercises and actually write a script, it’s far more likely to appraised seriously.

So, If I Shouldn’t Get Feedback On My Scripts, What Should I do?

Firstly we’re not saying you should never get another script review. That would be ridiculous.

You should always get as much script feedback on your writing as possible, but you should also master the basics of screenwriting first before tackling your next screenplay.

Well, we’re in the process of putting together these hacks, tricks and exercises into a step-by-step online screenwriting course, and a membership portal where you’ll be able to track the progress of your screenwriting.

The course and membership site, will show aspiring writers exactly what exercises they have to do to master dialogue, structure, scenes, writing style etc. in a methodical fashion, designed to improve your screenwriting as quickly as possible.

We think it’s time writers’ stop wasting money on sending scripts backwards and forwards to friends and readers for screenplay feedback and instead focus on honing their basic skills first.

Watch this space.

###

Break free from the vicious cycle of script feedback — receiving notes, making changes, receiving more notes, making more changes, by taking our online screenwriting course, ScriptHackr. It’s full of hands-on practical exercises to improve your overall writing ability.  

95 Comments
  1. Remi says:

    It looks lite it’s never enough of … everything. Non script is perfect!

  2. Gerardo says:

    I’d be happy to offer advise once I’ve read the sicprt but I won’t recommend any sicprts unles I’ve first read them and am happy to lend my name to them.

  3. Yvonne says:

    Thanks for the great article! Really enjoyed reading it. This is exactly what I went through with my screenplays. It took me a while to accept feedback, but I know it’s the only way to grow as a screenwriter.

  4. Wynnie says:

    Thanks for your advice! It’s refreshing to hear a few honest words from someone within the industry.

  5. nette755 says:

    I found it really hard to get feedback on my script. I asked friends and family to read, but it feels like it gets me nowhere. I think it’s time to get your professional help!

    1. SRP says:

      No worries. Have a look at our script coverage page here: https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/our-script-coverage-services/ and our team of working screenwriters will read your script and put together an action plan on how to improve it.

  6. Ben Ortega says:

    This is a good article but I have to disagree. Getting professional feedback on scripts really helped me to improve my writing skills and it helped me to identify some mistakes I kept repeating over and over again without realising.

  7. Miguel Costa says:

    Very good infor.

  8. Liza says:

    WIll definitley check out your course.

  9. Paulina says:

    Yes.

  10. Rosalinda P says:

    Good points all.

  11. Roberto says:

    How do I get an agent?

  12. Nibub says:

    Do you guys write script for me?

  13. Franklin says:

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative but now I don’t know what to do with my script? Revise or bin that is the question.

  14. Chuck S says:

    How about writing novels? Does the same apply?

  15. Dorothy says:

    Very true.

  16. Brian H says:

    What is the best way to sell my script?

  17. Juan says:

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks. My script will be coming your way soon.

  18. Bob McCullough says:

    If you listen to comments or reviews of your writing, make sure you only listen to people who have actually succeeded as screenwriters, not to the legions of “readers” who have never cracked the code themselves. That’s why you guys are the only screenplay consultancy I truly trust! Thanks for your fantastic feedback on my screenplays!

    1. SRP says:

      Thanks Bob – we appreciate your feedback, means a lot. We look forward to working with you again.

  19. Ablanni says:

    I’m never going to give up trying to make it as a screenwriter. Going to check out your course now. Thanks Script Reader!

  20. Eddie says:

    I need someone to review my book and tell me if it can be adapted into a screenplay. Can you help me please?

  21. harriett says:

    Do you guys do ghostwriting?

  22. Veronica says:

    I don’t know whether to get script coverage or not. Should I do it if I think my script’s pretty good already?

  23. Gregory says:

    Compared to most screenwriting blogs this one blows em all out the water.

  24. Connor says:

    You guys rock. Such great content. My writing’s been improved so much just by reading these posts. Keep it up.

  25. Brad says:

    This article makes sense. I will be buying your course soon.

  26. queen bee says:

    I want to say thank you for this ScriptReader Pro.

  27. Peter says:

    This site rocks. There script coverage really helped.

  28. Allan says:

    Getting feedback is a waste of time if your script sucks. If not it’s good.

  29. Ziggy says:

    There’s nothing more frustrating that getting the same notes back all the time. I’m going wrong somewhere but an going to stick at it.

  30. Abass says:

    When I write a screenplay I start from a place of imagining I’m a reader at a top agency. What would they want to read? What would get them excited? And I go from there.

  31. Gregsie says:

    It is.

  32. Cecilia says:

    I don’t know if I should get script coverage or not. It’s expensive and will the comments help me?

  33. Alan says:

    I will still get coverage because I find it’s the best way to learn. The readers always help me see things I did’nt.

  34. Mike G says:

    Exactly – too many writers don’t know what they’re doing. I’ve been working in this business for 18 years now and see it time and time again. Write a script and think the gates to Hollywood will open and beckon you in like a long lost child.

  35. lorraine says:

    This is sound writing advice. Can I talk to someone about getting coverage on my script?

  36. Adam J. says:

    What a great site this is, can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find it. Big thumbs up Script reader pro.

  37. nora says:

    Im a new screenwriter can you help me?

  38. Steven says:

    Yep, this sounds very familiar… Cool post.

  39. Ava says:

    Thanks Script Reader Pro. I will be using your services soon. Thank you.

  40. tanya says:

    This is spot on, I keep getting same comments on same script. Need help!

  41. Frank says:

    Nice work, thanks!

  42. Amanda says:

    Great post, thanks guys.

  43. Merlin says:

    Greetings from Hawaii 🙂

  44. Gregg says:

    I don’t know about this but what I do know is that it’s tough to hear negative feedback however much it may actually help.

  45. Phillip says:

    Love this site.

  46. Michael M says:

    Once upon a time a screenwriter wrote a script and showed it to a friend in the industry who really liked it and passed it on to another friend who worked as head of development at a top studio and he loved it too and asked for an immediate meeting with the writer and soon a deal was struck and the writer sold his script for 1 million dollars. The End.

  47. Donald says:

    Nice post.

  48. Matthew Shaw says:

    How do I know if my script’s any good?

  49. Lonnie Grafton says:

    Course looks v interesting. Do you offer feedback on scripts with it?

  50. Thomas V says:

    First time I’ve seen a script consultancy put out a post like this. Youz got ballz homeys.

  51. James Arele says:

    Yep, been there done that.

  52. Karina Puple says:

    Screenwriting is much harder than I thought…

  53. David Neville says:

    Just keep on keepin’ on.

  54. Heather Stewart says:

    Screenwriting is a waste of time.

  55. Richard Duncan says:

    Do you accept credit card?

  56. Gerard Crymn says:

    Me too.

  57. Kenneth Barbee says:

    I hear ya.

  58. Danielle Woory says:

    This is what happens to me 🙁

  59. Frank Staples says:

    I don’t agree with this. Ive been getting feedback for many years from various companies and they always given me sound advice.

  60. V Rodriguez says:

    Hola from Mexico.

  61. Leslie Norcroft says:

    I am a screenwriter, 63 years of age and just getting started. Thank you so much for this informative post. All the best. Leslie

  62. Jeremy Davis says:

    Cool post.

  63. Chris Havens says:

    I’m giving up. Been at this for 10 years now and not getting anywhere.

  64. Kenneth T says:

    Feedback is feedback, trust your own instincts on whats a good script or not.

  65. Merlin V says:

    Script writing is soooo hard.

  66. dakaxoms says:

    I can’t cope with any feedback on writing yet. I hope as I’m getting more confident I can finally share my words with the world.

  67. Jason says:

    good screenwriting website 🙂

  68. Gerald says:

    Thanks guys. Good info!

  69. James Bishop says:

    Anyone heard of place where I can throw my ideas around and bounce off other writers?

  70. David J says:

    I would like to write a script but don’t know where to start.

  71. Marie K. says:

    This is such an incredible post! I don’t know what to say… Thank you!!!

  72. Draxler says:

    Of course it is losers!!

  73. Chrissy says:

    I am dangerously close to giving up screenwriting 🙁

  74. Gideon says:

    Not to mention that many of these notes cater to the reader’s tastes and feel they’ve come from a checklist. I prefer discussions to get to the heart of a script, the writer’s intention, the central themes (which often the writer isn’t clear on) etc. Stuff like on the nose dialogue etc. is cosmetic and get fixed in later drafts.

  75. Vladi says:

    Bookmarked! Thanks for sharing this information with us!!

  76. Kingsley says:

    What if I have a script that I know is bad. Should I get coverage?

  77. Daka Xoms says:

    In it something is. Many thanks for the help in this question. I did not know it.

  78. James says:

    I agree with this. My script has been read by about five different companies and they all tell me different things. I;m goin round in circles. Will try your advice though, thanks.

  79. Jessie says:

    Not sure I agree with this. Feedback is always a good thing, no?

  80. Merlin says:

    U need to read this if u keep getting PASS on ur script. Very wise words.

  81. David says:

    Agreed. My screenplay has been going around various companies without success and so I’m going back to basics.

  82. Dave says:

    Nice! I will work more on my script now before sending in to you.

  83. James A says:

    I want a coverage service that will tell me like it is. No frills, no BS review.

  84. Donald Fuchs says:

    I will be purchasing your ½ hour tv package very soon. Nice website.

  85. Robert Fobia says:

    Can I send a script to an agent anyway if it says on their website they don’t accept unsolicited scripts?

  86. Brian Daley says:

    This is how people get divorced – arguing over scripts when one is better than the other.

  87. Cecil Rogers says:

    Can I send you my script for free? My job doesn’t pay me enough to pay you.

  88. Girard Swan says:

    Writing a good script is easy. It just takes time and hard work.

    Make sure to grab the audience in the first five to ten minutes, keep your scenes short and interesting/exciting, make sure that every scene “turns” – meaning that it progresses the story in some noticeable way and make sure the audience CARES about what your protagonist/protagonists is/are struggling through. Otherwise we have no investment to keep watching/reading.

  89. Frank Celry says:

    Agreeeeed!

  90. Wilbert Smith says:

    I am giving up writing. Just can’t stand the rejections.

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