Knowing when you're ready...

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  • #16
    Re: Knowing when you're ready...

    Feedback is the number one tool that a writer uses to find out if his script is ready.
    For another perspective on this, check out Terry Rossio's rant (and, of course, the ensuing debate):

    http://www.wordplayer.com/forums/scr...gi?read=124955
    Last edited by Rex V; 02-10-2006, 05:12 PM.
    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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    • #17
      Re: Knowing when you're ready...

      No writer truly knows if s/he's ready. The greatest of us are constantly sandwiched between confidence and doubt.

      After all the studying and rewriting and reading and conference attending, subjectivity will still rear her head and ultimately, you won't feel ready until someone cuts you a check and it clears.

      Getting lots of constructive feedback is the best we can hope for before submitting.
      "I ask every producer I meet if they need TV specs they say yeah. They all want a 40 inch display that's 1080p and 120Hz. So, I quit my job at the West Hollywood Best Buy."
      - Screenwriting Friend

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      • #18
        Re: Knowing when you're ready...

        Originally posted by JoeNYC
        billy says, "If you don't know, you ain't ready."

        Give Hazeem a break with the negativity. He just wanted to know how a writer decides when his script is strong enough to send out.

        I'm not a 100% positive that my scripts are ready unless I go through a feedback process. To get an objective opinion.

        You were so sure there were no flaws or weaknesses with every script you've written that you didn't need an objective eye?

        If you've sent your script out for feedback, then your mantra (If you don't know, you ain't ready) is bull, because if you knew, then there'd be no need for feedback.

        After I've gone through a thorough feedback process, then I know.
        Feedback is for suckers.

        I know when my script is ready.

        That doesn't mean I believe my script is perfect.

        But I know when the time has come to drop the thing in and see if it floats.

        Thank you.
        "Entertaining the world is a full time, up at dawn, never ending siege, the likes of which you will never fully understand."
        Billy Thrilly 2005

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        • #19
          Re: Knowing when you're ready...

          I've read Terry's rant about a writer who dares asks for feedback and I tell ya, I know he's an A-list writer, multiple hits and all, but he's full of crap.

          Doesn't he write with a partner? What, for the past 15 years they've been working on scripts together and they never gave each other feedback on the scenes they wrote?

          In another article he talked about how he hooked up with Hernandez (Sky High) as producers for one of his earlier stories and they told him they can't give him any money up front, but they will help him with their influence, connections and -- notes -- to get his story made.

          Does the word hypocrite apply here?

          Sure, you need to study the craft, the genre you're writing in, etc., etc., but getting feedback on your way to mastering the craft and genre of your choice isn't wrong, meek or amateurish.

          In fact, I think it's sound learning.

          It's not just feedback that'll help make the script stronger, but it'll also help make the writer stronger.

          And it's not just receiving that'll help make the writer stronger, giving feedback helps the writer learn the craft, honing his skills.

          Why avoid this route of learning? Because a pro said it makes the writer look meek? The same pro who told another non-pro that if he agrees to take them on as producers they'll help make the script stronger for the marketplace with their notes?

          Please, somebody stop the madness!

          Look, there's nothing wrong, meek or amateurish with asking for feedback. Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) talked about how David O. Russell is a friend and she's asked him for feedback on a script.

          Anthony Minghella has a friend from college who's also a professional writer and they swap feedback.

          These are component pros with many scripts and many years of experience and they have no problem about asking for notes.

          Rex, you had to make me bad mouth Terry, thanks.

          billy says, "Feedback is for suckers."

          -- Very insightful of you, thanks.
          Last edited by JoeNYC; 02-10-2006, 06:43 PM.

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          • #20
            Re: Knowing when you're ready...

            One person says one thing, the other person says something else.

            "Love the first act! Hate the rest of it."

            "I was bored in the first act, but then it really came to life!"

            "Love the lead character!"

            "Hate the lead character!"


            Trust YOUR instincts. Write and rewrite it and go over it again and again and again and again until YOU believe that it is ready.

            And then send it out.

            And then when feedback comes in AFTER sending it out, you can listen or not listen.

            Just don't send it out to everybody. Do a pre-send out and see what happens.

            You can feedback yourself into oblivion.


            With all that said.

            If you are JUST starting to write and aren't even in the same zipcode as ready, then you gotta give it to people and let them tear it apart....

            But once you are a competent writer, who knows generally what they are doing, stop with the feedback, UNLESS, you have ONE go to guy who you trust.

            That's it.

            One feedback per customer.

            Thank you.


            Trust YOURSELF. Everyone has a different opionion and it can drive you crazy.

            Thank you.
            "Entertaining the world is a full time, up at dawn, never ending siege, the likes of which you will never fully understand."
            Billy Thrilly 2005

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            • #21
              Re: Knowing when you're ready...

              Billy's sentiments have some merit, but the fact is we all take our feedback wherever we get it. For some it's contests, for others writing peers. For still others it's industry professionals. That's probably not where you want to get that initial feedback.

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              • #22
                Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                billy -- now -- says, "One feedback per customer."

                -- Oh, is this the new rule for others and I not to be considered "suckers"?

                nickj, you should be ashamed of yourself for agreeing with him.

                billy says, "Trust YOUR instincts. Write and rewrite it and go over it again and again and again until you believe that it is ready. ... And then send it out."

                -- What gave you the impression that most writers don't go through this process before sending it out for feedback?

                I always rewrite until I'm satisfied that I got the vision I want, and then send it out to get objective opinions to see if it's as solid as I think.

                And you know what? It never is.

                The pacing might be sluggish in a certain area. The structure in the second half of act two could be better. A couple of scenes may be too similar. Whatever.

                Sorry I'm not the master writer as you.

                For something as important as a non-pro using his script as a calling card to break into the industry I'm going to use every tool at my disposal to make sure my script is as strong as it can be before I knock on that industry pro's door.

                This argument that somehow feedback, or if you go over a certain limit is wrong is ridiculous.

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                • #23
                  Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                  Joe -

                  I was just offering (a link to) a different POV. You do that all the time on this board. Frankly, I have no problem getting feedback on my work from a few trusted friends whose opinions I respect.

                  On the other hand, I get where Terry and Pogue are coming from. If you want to be a pro screenwriter, YOU've got to be "the expert." The guy with all the answers (creative, structural, etc.). If you're working on an assignment, and the prodcuders ask you how the script's coming along and when they can see some pages, you're not going to tell them, "Well, I've got it out to a few trusted friends and script consultants for feedback, so I should know in a couple of weeks if it's ready," are you? (Even if it's true.)

                  Btw, Terry and Ted function as one brain while they're collaborating. Terry's said as much before, whenever someone's called him on the feedback issue. So, Terry getting notes from Ted is not really feedback in the sense that most people here are using the term.
                  Last edited by Rex V; 02-11-2006, 07:06 AM.
                  I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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                  • #24
                    Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                    You can control feedback while the script is still in your hands, but once it gets to the producers, studio execs, director and talent, there will be feedback galore.

                    Terry et al are not talking about the feedback you receive at that level. They're talking about the "validation feedback" many aspiring screenwriters seek out. "Am I good enough? Is my writing 'there'? Is this script ready for the marketplace?" The whole argument is that a writer should develop his skills to the point where he KNOWS his work is ready. So, by the time he's decided to send something out, he doesn't need to pay anybody tell him he's good enough.

                    Now, to me, that process of developing your craft to the point where you're comfortable giving your script to industry people INCLUDES feedback. So I'm not really in their camp. I just think it's an interesting perspective -- that one should have a finely tuned sense of cinematic dramaturgy before one ever starts writing screenplays. And that one can develop that sense on one's own, through years of self-directed study.

                    It's just a different POV. One I thought was worth sharing.
                    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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                    • #25
                      Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                      Also, I think getting feedback (from people you trust and respect) on a script before a producer, director, agent, manager, etc. sees it is a good idea. It never hurts to have some fresh eyes look your script over; they might catch something you've missed.

                      At the very least you'll get some gut reactions to what you've written.

                      I think, too, that it's a good idea to get notes from, say, your agent, in order to get a spec ready for the marketplace.

                      And I'm thousands of dollars in debt (student loans) because I went through a program that was basically four years of peer and industry feedback on my work.

                      So, yeah, I'm not opposed to feedback. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I was.

                      I just wanted to make that clear.
                      Last edited by Rex V; 02-11-2006, 10:04 AM.
                      I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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                      • #26
                        Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                        Feedback has several levels and at times it can feel like quicksand.

                        The first level is to find out if you have command of the basics: structure, character & dialog. If your feedback indicates you have this down, the next level is story and plot.

                        This is where feedback gets fuzzy and can drive you nuts because different readers will often give you contradictory opinions.

                        I find that feedback from other writers is totally different than feedback from studio execs.

                        Other writers focus on the quality of the writing.

                        Execs tend to focus more on commercial viability of your story.

                        As the writer, you have to feel confident that your script satisfies the concerns of both camps. Yet, at the same time you can't take everyone's feedback as law.

                        In the end, you have to decide if you're ready.
                        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                        • #27
                          Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                          billy says, "Trust YOUR instincts. Write and rewrite it and go over it again and again and again until you believe that it is ready. ... And then send it out."

                          -- What gave you the impression that most writers don't go through this process before sending it out for feedback?

                          Sorry I'm not the master writer as you.
                          To answer your question....read some scripts on Zoetrope or Triggerstreet or anywhere.

                          That's what gives me that impression. Also what gives me the impression is that I know writers personally who finish their first draft and then ask five people for feedback and the feedback is all over the map. They then lose their minds and have no idea what to do, when they should never have sent it out for feedback in this first place. If you know how to write and have good concepts you'll be able to get a solid screenplay without feedback and then yes, like CE said, eventually you'll get feedback. And then you can choose to do with it what you want.

                          But like I said, IF YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE WHAT YOU ARE DOING, BY ALL MEANS, PUT THE THING ON ZOETROPE and start getting the basics down at least...

                          "Uh, Joe...you realize that you have no third act?"

                          "What's a third act?"


                          And, I accept your apology.
                          "Entertaining the world is a full time, up at dawn, never ending siege, the likes of which you will never fully understand."
                          Billy Thrilly 2005

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                          • #28
                            Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                            Hey, Rex, I was just playing with you. In fact, I applaud you for the time and effort you put in to researching for that perspective from Terry, though I still don't agree with his points about a writer seeking feedback, but nevertheless, I believe it makes for a better and deeper discussion on the topic.

                            Rex says, "The whole argument is that a writer should develop his skills to the point where he knows his work is ready."

                            -- Develop his skills without the benefit of using feedback? This is a lofty and admirable statement, but not practical.

                            My point is why should a newbie or intermediate writer wait? The feedback process is an excellent learning experience. Imagine a newbie getting notes from an advanced writer on Zoetrope, or even a Nicholl winner who hangs out at Zoetrope. The education he'll receive about structure, character, and etc. will be beneficial to his growth as a writer.

                            At the other end of the spectrum, where an advanced writer seeks feedback from pros and non-pros, it's not to get a pat on the back or validation. It's to make the script strong for the marketplace.

                            Sure, there won't be as many flaws and weakness as a newbie's script, but still there is a possibility there might be a problem that the writer didn't see.

                            When you get an opportunity, it's only one shot to impress. No go backs to rewrite. One shot to show them you're worth their time and effort, so this is why I go through the process I mentioned with the link.

                            For example, right now, Di Novi Pictures, the producers of "Batman Returns" is considering one of my comedy scripts.

                            I feel a lot better about them looking at my script now that I was patient and went through a thorough feedback process before I sent it to them.

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                            • #29
                              Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                              let's never mistake the importance of feedback... because you can be sure that you can tell the difference between people who know what they are talking about and people who don't.

                              you can get feedback from five different people and test it.

                              you do what all five people told you to do and see how the story comes out. you keep on doing this and you become proficient at it.

                              i swear to god when i ask for feedback 'i could virtually write that feeback to myself. i could.

                              what i can't get is 'IDEAS' that germinate in someone else's pov and that makes a nice dichotomy to mine.

                              feedback is a kind of hijacked collaboration between two distinct and separate entities.

                              it's in a way fleecing, but feedback should consist of information that if you applied, combined with your 'nique content', works better than it initially did.

                              i'm telling you i've never made any of the scenes i've worked on worse. they always get better and in a shorter time. that's what feedback got me from every day folk like yourself.


                              you have to be able to know what 'works' and at times validation is like smoke up your ass, right?

                              vig

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                              • #30
                                Re: Knowing when you're ready...

                                A bit of a different take on the question, but it's a bigger challenge to tell if YOU are ready. Your script may be, but are you? I thought I was until my first meeting with a (small time) producer I'd never met. The first film where I might actually make some money not on deferral. I walked away terrified that I couldn't do it. Not that I don't believe in what I've written so far or in my ability to adapt to situations and stories. But there was something not ready at the core of me, and I'm now glad that I didn't hit the big time when I first started. I think trying was part of the process, though, so I can't say that it's necessarily wrong to start marketing too early. Experience is so valuable, even just for familiarity with the process. It really scared me, realizing that I thought I was ready but I wasn't and discovering that I'd better start acting like a writer if I wanted to be one. I know what you mean, magicman, about not being able to articulate the journey because I think I'm on that journey but didn't even know it until just now. I'm having a terrible time trying to figure out how to explain what I'm going through. It's this realization that I will always have something to learn and an acceptance of that -- looking into the mirror and seeing the shadow and knowing that it will always be there and working with it. A finding of myself as a writer, what I believe and what I know and what I don't ... and how I go about exploring that unknown territory that will always present itself. When you start out, you think, "Hey, I can write. I can do that." And you work on a set of skills and maybe develop some talent and work off of some feedback from people you've never met and you end up with some scripts. But that isn't ready. It isn't getting to the point where you please everyone who provides feedback or simply being able to pick out what you agree with and what you don't and knowing why. It isn't just learning enough that you talk the talk. I guess part of it is figuring out that writing a fantastic line or screwing up a scene doesn't make or break the core of who you are as a writer. I wish I could be more articulate about this. I can't even say how I got to this point.

                                In the end, I suspect that I won't really know that I'm ready -- me, not my work -- until I look back and realize I was ready when "the break" came. I figure the best I can do is try to move forward until that happens.

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