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Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't Stop at Grandma

By Margaux Froley Outhred

The best lesson I learned last week at the Creative Screenwriting Expo was about whom you choose to give you feedback on your scripts. It’s the old idea of “Choose your friends wisely”; which can apply to general social skills in life, but more important and actually relevant, is who you choose to read your writing.

If we, as writers, are looking for a gentle pat on the back, and easy validation, we know to send our scripts to Grandma. “Oh, Honey, it’s just great. I couldn’t really understand what was happening, and only got to page 10, but it was just great.” And if you’re in the right mood, you’ll believe her!

We love what we write about; stories that appear in our heads out of thin air, and then we love them enough to spend our early mornings, or weekends, to put these ideas onto the page and to shape them and craft them into compelling stories. No wonder it’s important to guard them carefully. But it is critical to work them into the best story they can be so that they can be enjoyed by others. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? No. Good screenplays cannot be created in a vacuum. Nor can they improve all by themselves. So, finding the right person to understand your vision and help improvement…that’s like a good relationship. You’ve got to be on the same page and work towards a common goal.

But, this isn’t about coverage. It’s about not taking “no” for an answer. If you ask your dear old Grandma for notes, and don’t find someone else to read your script, you’re stopping your own development as a writer. Anyone who reads your script and just says, “It’s great” is not helping you. Thank them and find the next person who will read your work. Use those friendships, consultants, barter agreements, whatever you call it, as long as you can find someone who will tell you the truth about your writing. That is your biggest adversary, the truth - and you need someone who will deliver it to you.

Having the courage, or just being in the right mood to hear the truth isn't always easy. Sometimes it does help to call Grandma first.

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