STORY BROADS: 6 Top Tips for Dealing with Feedback

Vicky Hinault is a London-based freelance writer and editor where she works creating content for global brands. Vicky’s had short stories, poems and articles published, online and in print. One short story was translated into a performance piece and staged in London while a collaborative art and poetry project was exhibited in Jersey Museum. Vicky also used to run an award-nominated film blog but stopped reviewing films and start writing her own. Vicky has had scripts reach the second round at AFF, Quarterfinals in ScreenCraft and the finals of the LSF Create 50 initiative. Twitter: @vickyhinault

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STORY BROADS: 6 Top Tips for Dealing with Feedback by Vicky Hinault | Script Magazine #scriptchat #screenwriting

Feedback. It’s a big scary word, or is it?

The reality is everyone needs to get feedback. Bouncing ideas off others and getting an objective viewpoint will help you grow as a writer. If you’ve yet to take the plunge, or need a reminder that you’re not alone in the dreading of feedback, here are six tips to prepare you.

1. Your mom 

No, I’m not insulting you, but I’m sure most of us have been offered a read by a family member. The reality is most of us don’t have family members that can give proper criticism on a script. They can tell you it’s good and massage your ego but when you get objective feedback, you’ll feel the bump of your script not being ‘fantastic’ or ‘really good’ when a real reader takes a look.

2. Suck it up, buttercup

Are you going to get feedback that tells you your script is perfect? Highly unlikely. That means you have to put on your big girl/boy pants and deal with what comes your way. It’s not personal it’s about making progress. And after all, we’re all on a journey.

3. Find people you trust

If you’re a writer then you likely have some writer friends through networking events and places like twitter. Great. It’s likely you’ll be able to get notes from them, make sure you trust them, that you know they can write, too. (Otherwise we have another Mom situation)

There’s also the paid route and where there’s money, there’s sharks. That doesn’t mean to say all screenplay consultants are sharks, on the contrary there are some talented people with great experience – so be picky about who you give your money to. Check their credentials and when you’re happy, send that script off!

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4. Don’t take it personally

All kinds of things fuel the creative process and a lot of us are fueled by our emotions. Something will nudge us and prompt us to want to tell a story. If you’ve written something you’re emotionally invested in then maybe let it sit a little while before sending it off. If feedback hits a raw nerve you may be less receptive to making changes. So, start something new and when you know you can accept feedback about your creative baby, get going.

5. There will be conflict

Notes are a funny thing: example, I got notes from a screenplay contest from two readers. One said my dialogue flowed and was authentic, the other said everyone sounded like insurance salesmen i.e. Dull (Sorry, insurance salesmen)

Everything is subjective and not everyone will get your work, and no, this doesn’t mean you can discount something right off the bat but it does mean you can weigh up differing thoughts and decide how much attention you give to each set of notes.

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6. Be clear on your intentions

Do you know what you’re trying to achieve with your script? I hope so if you’ve written it. Keep this in mind when getting your feedback. If someone doesn’t get a theme or a character you have to ask yourself if you’ve made it clear? Of course, in your head you know exactly what you’re trying to say. If someone else doesn’t get it, run the line of dialogue or scene by someone else. Do this a few times. I doubt I need to say this, but just in case – if they don’t get it, work on it.

So, there you have it. Some tips I’ve picked up along the way through the feedback journey: it won’t always be a pretty but it will be worth it.

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One thought on “STORY BROADS: 6 Top Tips for Dealing with Feedback

  1. MRO

    I’ve come to doubt the value of most contest feedback. For example, one reader suggested turning a tragic love story into a slasher flick (the tragic love story was a semifinalist in 3 other major contests). Recently a contest reader fixated on the professional relationship between 2 minor characters and said he couldn’t wait to find out how their love affair turned out but that overall he didn’t understand the plot (that script was read by a producer of multiple TV series who described it as “production ready”).

    My take on this is that anonymous contest readers are more likely to play games with your work than give you feedback which will improve it.

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