Feedback that totally alters the plot

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  • Feedback that totally alters the plot

    I have recently managed to get a respected Hollywood screenwriter to check out my psychological horror script.
    His feedback was... tough.... some of the fixes I saw and were easy but
    he believed that taking the film in an entirely other direction would be better.
    The plot would change so much that only the very basic impetus of the script would remain.

    If I'd written 'The Fly' it would be like, 'Hey I'd get rid of the boring repetetive stuff of her going to visit Brundle and seeing whats happened to him...,
    instead have him going out night after night killing innocent people to feed his new appetites and him having to deal with that and the morality that
    comes along with it, that's a real character arc.

    Basically criticism that so fundamentally alters the style of the film it's now a different film entirely.

    The notes I got were almost if you don't do it this way it's crap, rather than try and fix the version you've got and keep the vision you have, etc.

    I wonder what everyone's thoughts were on this kind of feeback.

    Thankyou

  • #2
    Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

    When Flannery O'Connor sent her novel to her publisher, he gave her a handful of notes in an attempt to make the novel more marketable. If you've read any of Flannery O'Connor's work, you know that she has a very distinctive voice and style, none of which falls along conventional plotting structure. Flannery was pissed at the publisher's attempts to twist her novel into something more mainstream and responded, "I am amenable to criticism, but only within the sphere of what I am trying to do. I will not be persuaded to do otherwise."

    I've posted that quote to my whiteboard, and it is the only quote I have there. It's saved me from tumbling down numerous rabbit holes.

    What strikes me about that quote is not only the conviction a writer must have in telling the story they want to tell, but that a writer must first fully understand "the sphere" of what they are trying to do. And only then can they truly pinpoint which notes fall inside that sphere and which fall outside that sphere.

    Notes and feedback are essential to the creative process. No note should be dismissed outright. And you must always be honest with yourself and ask if you find a note disagreeable simply because of laziness (implementing even minor notes can be a lot of work).

    But at the end of the day, it's your story and you have to be true to yourself.

    Some writers are too malleable. They accept any and all notes and ultimately twist their story again and again and again to accommodate the feedback. At the end of the day, they're left with a lifeless soup of disjointed ideas, and many many lost hours.

    Other writers are too rigid. Maybe out of laziness or arrogance, they reject all feedback, assuming that their way is and always shall be the right way.

    So ask yourself, do his notes make for a better story? Or just a different one?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

      Wow bunker... Id hug you if I could for such a great response.

      And that is a fantastic quote too...
      This is it I want to be true to my style and taste and the guys attitude was more 'Well this is what I would do and I think it's right.'

      I actually love criticism that improves my film, as I miss working on this script and getting to go back to it and make it even better is awesome, course it's annoying to get notes but those I agree with I implement even if its a ton of work. (which some have been in the past).

      My gut is telling me his ideas make a far different story than a better one, there may be issues with my script..., I don't know yet I'm still fresh from this filleting of a piece I felt very proud of but I know his ideas are demolishing this world I created into something he would do rather than that being the right course of action it is purely a mater of taste....

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

        without having read the writer's notes in the original, if i got that kind of note it would probably depend on the spirit in which it was given as to how much weight i gave it

        if it's in the "i see what you're going for and here's a suggestion on how you might get there in a more dramatically compelling way" vein, i tend to give those some serious thought

        if it's more like "let me tell you how i would write this if it were me" i have no use for that kind of note. and i don't ever give that note myself to others.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

          It was the latter.... I wish it had been the former.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

            It would depend on whether you think the notes giver is helping you create the best version of *your* film, or *their* best version of your film. If you intended to make Batman and they gave you notes on how to improve Superman, it can become a comedy of errors. This is usually why, when I give notes, I give my overall impression first, and then sit down with the writer and ask what was the movie that played in their heads before proceeding further.

            Originally posted by superexistence View Post
            I have recently managed to get a respected Hollywood screenwriter to check out my psychological horror script.
            His feedback was... tough.... some of the fixes I saw and were easy but
            he believed that taking the film in an entirely other direction would be better.
            The plot would change so much that only the very basic impetus of the script would remain.

            If I'd written 'The Fly' it would be like, 'Hey I'd get rid of the boring repetetive stuff of her going to visit Brundle and seeing whats happened to him...,
            instead have him going out night after night killing innocent people to feed his new appetites and him having to deal with that and the morality that
            comes along with it, that's a real character arc.

            Basically criticism that so fundamentally alters the style of the film it's now a different film entirely.

            The notes I got were almost if you don't do it this way it's crap, rather than try and fix the version you've got and keep the vision you have, etc.

            I wonder what everyone's thoughts were on this kind of feeback.

            Thankyou

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

              Not all major change suggestions are worthless:

              From an interview of Fred Lebow, who co-wrote "While You Were Sleeping".

              We pitched it to Meg Ryan's production company hoping we'd get interest from Meg to star in it. Her development executive said to us, "Firstly, why would Meg want to do this movie if she's in a coma for most of it? And secondly, you guys are creeps! It's kind of predatory with this guy telling this comatose woman's family that he's engaged to her. Why don't you flip it around - let the woman be the one fabricating the story. Then it's no longer predatory, it's funny."

              I guess with a woman it's less threatening. The set-up was very important - it being a comedy, you give it some leeway to tread on that line. If it wasn't a comedy, it'd be very creepy!
              Full interview.
              "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

                Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
                Not all major change suggestions are worthless:

                From an interview of Fred Lebow, who co-wrote "While You Were Sleeping".



                Full interview.
                hey, worked for The Big Sick apparently

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Feedback that totally alters the plot

                  Ultimately it's one person's perspective. As they are the pro and you aren't, and by the looks of things, some way off, I'd give a huge benefit of the doubt to the pro but even then, it's only their thoughts and they could be wrong.

                  You asked for feedback and opinion. You got it. Accept it or don't.



                  My gut is telling me his ideas make a far different story than a better one, there may be issues with my script..., I don't know yet I'm still fresh from this filleting of a piece I felt very proud of
                  Red flag alert.

                  Comment

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