No announcement yet.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts


    I had an experience at Zoetrope, which Iâ€TMll explain further on. First, Iâ€TMd like to set it up.

    When I first joined Zoetrope, I realized the reviewers I got were inexperienced writers, who were no help. They just rambled on to reach their two hundred-word minimums, so they could get the four required reviews they needed to post their own script.

    By the time I realized this, I only had a few days left before my scriptâ€TMs time on the site was up. Desperate, I zipped a zmail over to an experience writer and made an offer to exchange reviews. He agreed. His feedback was very helpful, as mine was for him.

    Now, I keep a list of the top reviewers, those who score a rating of 4.5 and higher. Each month, Zoetrope post the names of the top reviewers. So far, my list has the names of about fifty members. At any given time, about five to ten of these members will have a screenplay thatâ€TMs live on the site.

    Okay, that gets us to the meat of this post. I sent off a zmail to five of those members, who have scripts that are live. I told them Iâ€TMm an experience writer, who knows how to give an exhaustive and insightful critique. That Iâ€TMm available to analyze their script, if theyâ€TMre available to review mine, when I post it in December.

    Four members replied yes, and one member asked for a logline and how many pages. Iâ€TMve been on other Internet workshops in the past, where Iâ€TMve received this type of request before... and it bugs me.

    I rather receive, â€No, Iâ€TMm not available.†Then, â€Yes, Iâ€TMm available, but Iâ€TMm picky.†Now, I know what youâ€TMre going to say, â€That member is smart to ask.†My feeling is a workshop is where members are supposed to help each other to improve their work.

    Some of you will say, â€Maybe a member would feel they lack certain strengths in a particular genre or story to give valid feedback.â€

    -- Nonsense. Iâ€TMve heard this excuse before too. If youâ€TMre a competent, experience writer, you should be able to identify problems in any genre or story. Problems such as: structure, plot holes, boring or unnecessary scenes, underdeveloped characters, over/underwritten scenes, dialogue, and descriptions, etc.

    If someone gave me a story about gay men to review, should I say, â€Iâ€TMm not able to critique this, because Iâ€TMm not gay. I feel, not being familiar with that subject, I wonâ€TMt be able to point out problems and offer suggestions that would improve your story.†Nonsense.

    Like you donâ€TMt have to be an expert in the comedy genre to review comedies, because of the reasons Iâ€TMve stated earlier. Also, youâ€TMll know if itâ€TMs funny or not, by if it makes you laugh.

    Same with the Horror genre, if it spooks and scares you, it works.

    My feeling, for a workshop to function, as a member, you must be subjective enough to handle many different genres and stories. To be successful in a workshop environment, you must develop relationships with other experience writers.

    The point Iâ€TMm trying to get across to the aspiring writer is that before you send your script out to the professionals in the business, feedback is crucial... crucial... crucial. Did I mention itâ€TMs crucial?

    To achieve this, offer to critique another writerâ€TMs script, which, if done correctly, will consist of multiple pages of feedback.

    Donâ€TMt be picky, or you might end up like the woman who asked me for my logline and page count, no reviews.

  • #2

    Are you saying that we should post on AZ or not?

    I, for one, stopped going there because i found a closer network of folks (many who are regular posters of this site) who provide feedback. I always found the AZ concept, while noble, quite flawed. There's almost a tacit agreement, I think, that the hardcore AZers give each other good ratings and such.

    I might be wrong. But I've not gone back in four months since I found out that I put much more time into it than I got back.


    • #3
      Why I'm picky when I get the chance to be

      I know it's frustrating when you can't get all the reads you want. But right now I'm looking at it from the point of view of the people who wanted to see the logline first. Those people, highly-rated reviewers, get asked to review a whole lot of scripts, and most of them are an unpleasant chore to read. We all have some scripts we are required to read for various reasons. For instance, I belong to a couple live, in-person writers' groups where everybody has to read everything another member submits, regardless of genre. On Zoetrope, those top rewiewers you want to get to have done their required reviews, and probably many more above and beyond the call of duty. Under the rules of that organization, they've earned the right to spare themselves some reading they have reason to believe they're not going to like, because they don't like the genre, or because the writer didn't know how to choose an inviting concept.

      When you pay somebody, they have to read your script, like the idea or not. But when you're trying to get a favor read, just like when you're trying to get an agent or prodco read, you have to convince them that your script is going to be a positive experience and not an excruciating one. That's why choosing a good concept and writing a good logline are so important. It makes all the difference in whether or not people who have a choice in the matter will choose to read your script.


      • #4

        Hey, Blue:

        I was just giving advice on the importance of quality feedback and how to develop relationships to obtain it.

        It sounds like you already have develop relationships, where you wonâ€TMt need workshops like AZ.

        For those who do, the best way to get it is by what I described above.

        Iâ€TMve found the members who are on the top reviewerâ€TMs list, were able to identify problems and give sound advice to fix it. Almost on the same level as a professional analyst that you would pay 500 dollars for.


        Iâ€TMm just pointing out, these top reviewers would like to get 3-5 thorough reviews of their scripts also. To get that, they would have to review another experience writerâ€TMs script. Unless they accept an offer from someone, who says they got the experience to give it to them, they might end up with insufficient feedback.

        Of course, if they have developed relationships at AZ and donâ€TMt need to line up component reviewers, they could afford to be picky. But my guess is some who have an attitude about it, and are picky, are going to end up with no reviews.


        • #5
          I've been on AZ for two years. I've reviewed over a hundred scripts, although a half dozen or so were informally by email. In the beginning my reviews weren't good. I skimmed and I hurried, but as much out of lack of experience and fear of sounding like an idiot as anything. I got better at reviewing as I improved my writing. I have also gotten some worthless reviews--but if I get one thing that stands out for me, I count it as a winner, even if the rest the review is horseshit.

          I have a number of people who read me regularly and I assure you I haven't had the good (or bad?) fortune of them pasting high scores on scripts that didn't merit it. The people who work me over the hardest are the ones I encourage to read me again, and I try to read them. A half dozen people or so writers have received more than two reviews from me. The rest the reviews I've done are a mishmash of new writers or repeats who've requested me to take a look.

          I've gotten choosier because I learn less from the bad scripts than I used to. Yes, I wade through some even though they're painful because there's a promise I see or an idea I enjoy even if the execution is bad. And sometimes I read the bio or see the person's posts on the boards and want to be supportive. But by and large, I look and think carefully before I review. Why?

          Because every review is a commitment of 4-5 hours of my time. As my writing has improved, I learn less from the bad scripts and want to spend more time reading the pros. It's like playing tennis. You don't mind playing with a complete beginner sometimes, but it's not very stimulating once you're at an advanced level. So you do a few good turns, remembering you were there once. But you also look for people a couple swings ahead of you so you can be challenged while you review.

          There's nothing nefarious about most people there. They're looking to get feedback and improve their writing. Like life, some people take their commitments more seriously. But nobody owes anybody and nobody's entitled. Any review given conscientiously--even short or inexperienced--should be received graciously. Make like AA. Take what you like and leave the rest.

          Always give twice what you expect. If you receive half what you hope for, you'll be light years ahead.

          And if AZ doesn't meet your needs, so be it. It's one option. Not the only door.


          • #6
            Joe's advice is good. I used to use Zoe. But it was WAY too time consuming. (Sorry I sent you there, Blue.)

            IMHO, the only way to get something out of it, is to get to know the better writers, like Joe said. I was fortunate enough to attend a conference where I met a lot of the writers face to face. We still keep in touch and review each other's work.

            HOWEVER, I have found certain writers right here at DD to be much more helpful.



            • #7
              Janea, don't fact, your feedback of my initial rough script was the basis of my first rewrite.

              I just got lucky, i suppose, because i ran into lots of folks since then who have been very supportive and helpful in my development process.

              on AZ, i just didn't get very candid feedback. however, i do agree that it is helpful if you get back what you put in and...if you don't know many people who can provide you feedback, a good source to get initial reaction.


              • #8

                You try to do WAY TO MUCH mindreading, which is bad for your mental health. You presume to know why this person asked for the logline and length. You presume to know counter-arguments to your post. Maybe this person is competent AND experienced and just doesn't want to review certain genres or long stories. Who are you to tell them what they should want? The critique police? If you are good (as apparently this person was based on her scores), you get to pick and choose.

                I'm available and I'm picky.


                • #9
                  Re: mindreading

                  And on a different subject, it looks like there really are some producers trolling the water at AZ.

                  From moviebytes ezine vol. 5, number 23:

                  Bruce Meade has been a member of Francis Ford
                  Coppolaâ€TMs American Zoetrope "Virtual Studio"
                  workshop since June 22, 2000. In August 2001, his
                  original comedy feature, "In A Nutshell," was
                  optioned by Custom Productions due to exposure on
                  the Zoetrope web site.


                  • #10

                    RayGivler, you missed the point to what I was saying to the experience writers out there. Iâ€TMll repeat it again, and this time I'll try to be more clearer.

                    Feedback is crucial, before you send your script out to the professionals in the business. You need to develop relationships with other experience writers to get valid feedback. One way to do that would be to make contact with other experience writers and offer to exchange reviews.

                    Those top reviewers are aspiring writers just like you and me, who also need feedback for their stories.

                    If I have my story posted on AZ, because I need feedback, and I was contacted by someone, who said, â€Iâ€TMm an experience writer, who knows how to give an exhaustive and insightful critique, are you interested in swapping reviews?â€

                    My answer would be, â€Hell yes!†Just like the 5 out of the six, who jumped at this offer when I contacted them.

                    Now, for the 6th member, who asked for a logline and page count. This tells me sheâ€TMs picky, which means sheâ€TMs not someone worth developing a relationship with. If everything meets her criteria, then she might bless you with her review. You donâ€TMt want to establish relationships with writers you canâ€TMt count on. Itâ€TMs a waste of time and effort.

                    The point Iâ€TMm trying to make to the aspiring writers is what to do and not to do, in order to develop a relationship with another writer.

                    Oh, by the way, the 5 reviewers that I lined up to review my story, already have 3-6 reviews on their own stories.

                    The 6th member, who was picky, has 0 reviews for her story.


                    • #11
                      The problem i found with AZ is that it's somewhat forced feedback. lemme read 4 scripts so that i can upload another.

                      joe, your assumption that this one person who didn't read your script because of logline and length issue seems odd. you seem to fault her for rejecting your spec.

                      i have the opposite view. i'm always so grateful when someone offers to read my matter whether that is just one page (and spends like 2 hours on that one page) or the whole spec or somewhere in between. as far as my feelings go, them reading the script is doing you a favor and not the other way around. so your feeling of being jilted is unfair since this 6th person may be quite busy.

                      now you are also equating lots of reviews on AZ as a positive sign. i disagree. sure, more opinions may be good. but when i posted my old specs, i consistently got ratings of Very Good or higher (and this was when i was bad). so i stopped going, not because i didn't like the ego boost from the readers but because their reviews didn't teach me how to improve my technique.

                      that being said, being on AZ (i've been told by those who endorse it) helps someone's development. just not my cup of tea.


                      • #12
                        What's the point?

                        Blue: I didnâ€TMt say she rejected me. She asked for a logline and page count. I ignored her request and moved on, because like I stated above, she wouldnâ€TMt be worth developing a relationship with. If someone is going to be interested in only in reviewing a certain genre or page count, they wonâ€TMt be worth establishing a relationship with. Thatâ€TMs all Iâ€TMm saying. This isnâ€TMt about rejection.

                        Iâ€TMm just using my experience with that 6th member as an example to point out to experience writers, what to do, and not do, if you want to make connections and get good feedback for a story you have posted, or for a future story you plan to post. You don't want to end up isolated with no reviews like that 6th member.


                        • #13
                          Re: What's the point?

                          Well, I just don't see why it's so wrong to ask for logline and number of pages. So easy to make a first good impression when you have a good logline and 95 - 120 pages. This question you will hear many times. And it bugs you...
                          I'm a picky one too. Couple of times I agreed with two different writers to swap rewiews. I diligently pointed at all flaws and... got lambasted for doing this. No feedback on my script, naturally.
                          Now I prefer to send my scripts to a professional consultant, so far, I'm happy with that.
                          Recently I agreed to read a script of another MB member and as a result my rewiews from "Very helpful" dropped to "Somewhat helpful". I couldn't care less, it's not my goal to be a top reviewer.
                          And I still review scripts on Zoe when I feel I can help to writer to improve the story or format. My rewievs are rarely flattering, because, I don't beg for swapping.
                          Joe, you are an experience writer, BTW, shouldn't it be "an experienced writer"? but you are new on Zoe, one might assume, that you are new to screenwriting.
                          Giving to that lady your logline, you could have one more helpful review. I'm off to Zoe to find her script, read it and review it.


                          • #14
                            This has gone on too far.

                            Olga: Of course you have the right to be picky; Iâ€TMm not saying no one does. I canâ€TMt believe after all Iâ€TMve written about this theyâ€TMre still some people who donâ€TMt comprehend the point Iâ€TMm making.

                            Iâ€TMm just giving advice on the best way to make and keep connections. If your too picky, experience writers, who are the people you want to give you feedback, are not going to have a relationship with you. It would be a waste of time and effort. â€You can send me this one, but donâ€TMt ever send me that one. I despise comedies.â€

                            You may find yourself with o reviews, like that 6th member. This is exactly the position Iâ€TMm trying to advise other writers not to get in. When you have a screenplay you need to get to a producer or agent, but you must get helpful feedback before you send it. You donâ€TMt want to end up with 0 reviews.

                            Iâ€TMm not new to screenwriting. In fact, Iâ€TMm one of those top reviewers. Also, I can prove this.

                            I gave a review to a Zoetrope member, by the name of James Barrett, who said, â€Iâ€TMve been a member at Zoetrope for two years, and your review is the best Iâ€TMve every received.â€

                            If you still donâ€TMt believe me, contact me in the one and one forum, and leave me your email address. Iâ€TMll send you the exact copy of the review I gave him, or you can zmail Barrett and ask him yourself.


                            • #15
                              Re: Picky reviewers

                              <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Now, for the 6th member, who asked for a logline and page count. This tells me sheâ€TMs picky, which means sheâ€TMs not someone worth developing a relationship with. If everything meets her criteria, then she might bless you with her review. You donâ€TMt want to establish relationships with writers you canâ€TMt count on. Itâ€TMs a waste of time and effort.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

                              Hmmm, I don't think being 'picky' necessarily translates into someone 'not worth developing a relationship with.' Picky could mean- my time is limited and I don't want to review 200 page scripts. Picky could mean - I really really hate stupid teenage comedies filled with juvenile sexual gags and the ever-present breast shots of whatever starlet they hired to show them. Picky could mean- I'm busy working 50 hours a week as a proofreader/copy editor, commuting another 10, working on my own material and I really don't have the energy to devote to newbie writers.

                              I'm new to screenwriting, but I'm an experienced editor when it comes to prose fiction. I've learned my lesson over the years; when a writer <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> I don't know personally<!--EZCODE BOLD END--> contacts me and asks me to review their story, I have my own set of questions for them. 1- How long have you been writing? 2- How much editing have you had in the past? 3- How old are you? and 4- How much education have you had?. Once those questions are answered, then I'll let someone send me <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> no more than<!--EZCODE BOLD END--> 10 pages of work for an intial review. Believe me, I can tell in six paragraphs how experienced a writer is, but with 10 pages I can determine the gist of whatever they're trying do and determine how much time and effort they're going to require.

                              Maybe Miss Picky was just being careful about how she spent her time, Joe. And I'm not sure I follow the whole 'establishing relationships' vibe you mentioned. Yes, if you're going to trade reviews back and forth, you <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> hope<!--EZCODE BOLD END--> to find someone as dedicated and serious and committed as you are. But, let's be honest- not everyone is as driven as we are. I think it's a little harsh to be judging her based on her own (unknown to you) criteria for accepting scripts.

                              She probably has her reasons.