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Old 10-03-2019, 01:17 PM   #81
figment
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Originally Posted by Bono View Post
...but why do you expect them to be consistent when people can't all agree a book or movie is good?
I'd think if you are reading for a specific fellowship/contest, you would be geared to what that fellowship/contest is looking for, though.

That's why finding that one producer or exec or manager that gets your stuff is more important than pleasing individual note-givers. Now if only I could do that.
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Old 10-03-2019, 02:15 PM   #82
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Originally Posted by figment View Post
I'd think if you are reading for a specific fellowship/contest, you would be geared to what that fellowship/contest is looking for, though.

That's why finding that one producer or exec or manager that gets your stuff is more important than pleasing individual note-givers. Now if only I could do that.
I agree. And I also think that there are people who don't know what to say, don't have time, or really don't care, and simply give a generalized comment that really means nothing and helps not one iota. And it's possible that the reader THINKS they ARE giving a helpful note and simply doesn't realize their intention is incomplete-- that's possible. Some people are more articulate than others, right?

But, it's not the same as saying, this character isn't unique, because it is too similar to XXX in XXXX and XXX in XXXX. The actions are seen in other films in the same genre like blah, blah, blah and blah, blah, blah. Those notes might bring light to something the writer didn't at first realize.

My comments were mainly directed at writers who read other writers.

For example: a note could be...

I don't understand why this character would make make specific choice when throughout the narrative they have been a strong advocate against that action. It feels inauthentic to the character and inconsistent with what seems to be their values.

Versus...

Why would you make such a stupid choice to have her make that decision?

One comment is rooted in the context of the story and the character, while the other is not.

The second is a direct attack on the writer. It is not helpful.

So, if it's too much bother for you to give thoughtful notes without being harsh or insulting, what's the point of giving them at all? Just because you can? Because someone else did it to you? Because you can claim, "suck it up, that's life?"

And before anyone claims, "we should sugar coat it?" That's not what I'm saying AT ALL, and I think most reasonable people understand that. Honest notes are honest notes. It's the "BRUTAL" part I take issue with...

Notes are offered to help a writer see their story's weaknesses and consider how to improve their story, characters and plot. Notes are not to annihilate a writer.

When another writer tells you, "I don't know if you can handle my notes, I'm brutal, I don't hold anything back..." My first thought is, "Okay, i see you, you are outright telling me you're a PRICK. I'll take a pass-- I don't need YOU to read my work. I have plenty of writer friends who don't do that."

Because THOSE kind of notes are useless, imo.

And that IS NOT the same as your manager saying, "You know, I'm just not into it. You need to fix it. I can't take this out." That's not to say that that is a good note, it's not because it doesn't identify the problems. It's not demoralizing, condescending, sarcastic, or belittling.

You make a decision at that point-- fix it or drop it.
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Old 10-03-2019, 02:38 PM   #83
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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One big problem writers have when soliciting feedback is that they do it TOO LATE in the process.

They've spent months crafting this story and perfecting the script and only then ask for honest feedback. At that point, it's kinda too late for major structural change. A tiny note about Act 1 unwinds all of Act 3. Even when the writer tries to make major changes, it's hard. Echoes of old themes and character arcs hang out beneath the page and everything feels messy and disjointed.

The time to ask for "brutally honest" feedback is at the pitch or treatment stage. It's easier to implement the feedback because major changes can be put in within an hour. Also, everyone understands it's not a completed project and so the giving and receiving of the notes is a far more creative and collaborative process.

There's a reason why professional assignments require pitches and treatments. And, if nothing else, if you pitch your scripts to your friends BEFORE you write it, it'll be good practice for future pitches.

Once the script is done, the feedback you solicit can be far more targeted. "How did this moment feel...?" "Did this theme come through...?" "Did you like this character...?"

It creates more of a fine-tuning process rather than a rip-it-up process.

I know this is now veering into a discussion of "to pre-write vs not-to-pre-write" and "planners vs pantsers." But the screenplay structure is so constraining and finely-tuned, that I feel it's best to get guiding feedback early in the process.
Some interesting points here. I agree with a lot of it.

I'm not sure it's always too late. There are writers who can step back and start over if that's what it takes to write a better script.

It's really hard to do that, because it's embedded as a fixed form in your mind, so there's a natural resistance-- but it is possible. But I've done it, so I know it's possible. I think it depends on the writer, right? Some recognize the wisdom of others and can say-- let's get to the next draft.

When writers are first learning, they don't have the support group at the beginning that they develop as their writing journey moves forward. But it can really be a great learning experience to have someone dissect its strength and weaknesses, both are important, with a completed script.

This is not about saying "blow smoke up someone's ass," but if a writer doesn't know what DOES work for people at the same time they learn what DOESN'T they can inadvertently remove what parts makes the story good or do work on their own. I'm not talking about a writer who already knows what is strong, but an inexperienced writer starting out.

Sometimes it's a matter of fact-- the writer simply needs more experience at writing screenplays. And it's okay to say that. They've asked for your opinion and you should be honest.

I am a huge proponent of fully outlining characters and plots to the Nth degree if necessary, or whatever level allows the writer the confidence to move forward with writing their script. But I would only every do it in a closed writer's workshop forum or with trusted writers. I would never do it on a public forum with writers. haha.

It's so hard to write without an outline. It takes so much longer. It helps you avoid being backed into a corner, and helps you stay on the spine.

This is a good conversation.
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Old 10-03-2019, 03:19 PM   #84
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Some interesting points here. I agree with a lot of it.

I'm not sure it's always too late. There are writers who can step back and start over if that's what it takes to write a better script.

It's really hard to do that, because it's embedded as a fixed form in your mind, so there's a natural resistance-- but it is possible. But I've done it, so I know it's possible. I think it depends on the writer, right? Some recognize the wisdom of others and can say-- let's get to the next draft.

When writers are first learning, they don't have the support group at the beginning that they develop as their writing journey moves forward. But it can really be a great learning experience to have someone dissect its strength and weaknesses, both are important, with a completed script.

This is not about saying "blow smoke up someone's ass," but if a writer doesn't know what DOES work for people at the same time they learn what DOESN'T they can inadvertently remove what parts makes the story good or do work on their own. I'm not talking about a writer who already knows what is strong, but an inexperienced writer starting out.

Sometimes it's a matter of fact-- the writer simply needs more experience at writing screenplays. And it's okay to say that. They've asked for your opinion and you should be honest.

I am a huge proponent of fully outlining characters and plots to the Nth degree if necessary, or whatever level allows the writer the confidence to move forward with writing their script. But I would only every do it in a closed writer's workshop forum or with trusted writers. I would never do it on a public forum with writers. haha.

It's so hard to write without an outline. It takes so much longer. It helps you avoid being backed into a corner, and helps you stay on the spine.

This is a good conversation.
FA4
I agree with Bunker, and would take it a step further. The best time, imo, is at the concept phase. You have to know up front whether or not the idea you're going to spend 6-9 months writing is any good. You might think you have a killer idea, but if you don't workshop it or talk it out, you might spend a lot of time banging your head against the wall on an idea that's half-baked, conceptually flawed, or just plain dull. It might be too late on a script that's not working because the writer didn't take the time to really dig into their concept and get feedback on it.
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Old 10-03-2019, 03:36 PM   #85
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Originally Posted by figment View Post
Vastly opposing notes happen to me all the time. I have no idea why. Nothing I write is particularly polemic, but you wouldn't know it by the notes I get.

Case in point: crime drama entered into the Nicholl this year.

First Nicholl reader: "An exceptional protagonist... Everything about this script was stellar... Riveting... Page-turning... Never a dull moment... Everything about this feels like it was written by a true professional."

The next Nicholl reader: "The main character isn't unique, neither are the villains or the story."

Um, yeah, so the script is either a blockbuster or a pile of crap? I mean, come on. There is no consistency in notes. Ever. It's no wonder writers are so confused.
Ignore the second set of notes.

That's the CORRECT answer. You already PROVED to YOURSELF that someone would dig it. So, MUTHA FUKK the second set of notes (literally fukk those notes to hell and back... DO NOT CONSIDER THEM!)

I've said before. I've gotten "DISASTER!!!" and "AWESOME!!!" on the same script within days of each other. Why the fukk should I consider the "DISASTER!!!" note when it's irrelevant? The "AWESOME!!!" note person already offered me a gig. Basic math says... IGNORE THE SECOND NOTE!

I'll even name names, fukk it.

DISASTER!!!: Screenwriter Sheldon Turner/producing partner. I thought he'd dig it. Nope. Hated it. No prob. We all have different tastes.

AWESOME!!!: Matrix producer. Dug it. Offered me a job.

You wanna please EVERYONE? Write something shitty! You wanna please Nicholl? Write something weird, quirky and SMALL as sh!t.

POINT: We're def gonna get our asses kicked out there. Unavoidable. But you gotta ignore the haters, ESPECIALLY WHEN some people fukkin dig it. That's proof you ain't fukking WRONG! Those are YOUR PEOPLE! Fukk everyone else...

Seen it too many times. Everyone passing on a movie/TV show. ONE FUKKING PERSON SAYS YES and --------> HIT. I can think of 5 off the top of my head. And there's a massive difference between MADE and HIT.
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Old 10-03-2019, 03:57 PM   #86
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

Is feedback from contests notes though? I get the points, but we are off topic to me -- I'm saying actual notes you get from friends like page 23 -- typo, page 33 this scene was way too long...

Feedback from contests is just bad TV guide reviews...

Gucci is talking about AFTER YOU get notes and send it out.

You guys and gals are on FEEDBACK not notes. Just saying...
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:01 PM   #87
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Is feedback from contests notes though? I get the points, but we are off topic to me -- I'm saying actual notes you get from friends like page 23 -- typo, page 33 this scene was way too long...

Feedback from contests is just bad TV guide reviews...

Gucci is talking about AFTER YOU get notes and send it out.

You guys and gals are on FEEDBACK not notes. Just saying...

TRUTH!

I don't consider that sh!t REAL notes. Real notes come from BUYERS. Period! The end!

Not, saying I won't consider those notes. Just, they ain't REAL notes yet... not to me.
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:38 PM   #88
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
My comments were mainly directed at writers who read other writers.

I don't understand why this character would make make specific choice when throughout the narrative they have been a strong advocate against that action. It feels inauthentic to the character and inconsistent with what seems to be their values.

Versus...

Why would you make such a stupid choice to have her make that decision?
That's true. Because the first note makes you think about the character and imagine ways to fix it, the second note makes you immediately defensive and it's hard to think of story possibilities if you're pissed.

Notes should shine a light, not beat you with a baseball bat.

Personally, I think note-giving is a specific skill set that not many people actually possess, especially if you're talking about getting them from other writers. Catching the random spelling error on page 25, or would this character say X or Z is small potatoes compared to someone asking the right questions that compel you to establish a stronger theme or a more impactful ending.
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:59 PM   #89
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

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Originally Posted by docgonzo View Post
I agree with Bunker, and would take it a step further. The best time, imo, is at the concept phase. You have to know up front whether or not the idea you're going to spend 6-9 months writing is any good. You might think you have a killer idea, but if you don't workshop it or talk it out, you might spend a lot of time banging your head against the wall on an idea that's half-baked, conceptually flawed, or just plain dull. It might be too late on a script that's not working because the writer didn't take the time to really dig into their concept and get feedback on it.
Very true.
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Old 10-03-2019, 06:39 PM   #90
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Default Re: A Note about Notes

One way to get notes you can really use is to ask for advice on a particular passage you're having a hard time with.

E.G.: I'm not sure of what I'm trying to convey is coming across here or not; I'm not wild about the dialogue here but I'm not sure how to kick it up a notch; not sure if the action works here; not sure if this over the top or not.

Etc. This also helps the note giver give good notes because they can zero in on something specific and provide suggestions.
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