Saturday, December 29, 2012

To take negative feedback

To take criticism is not easy. You have written something with passion and spilled your heart into it and then some jerk tells you it’s not good enough. And the same jerk has the guts to offer you the most bizarre ideas to how to change the story. It is not that strange that you act hostile.

But, never, ever let the jerk know that you feel this way. Thank him or her kindly for the time and ask one or two follow-up questions if you feel something is unclear.


Because your criticizer is not a jerk. No matter how idiotic and stupid you feel the feedback was, the so called jerk is a kind fellow who wish for you to develop in your writing. He or she has actually found enough interest in what you presented to give your script a try. Be kind and you might keep a good relationship and get valuable feedback at another time as well. If you act hostile, you will in time lose your options to get your material read at all. You don’t want that.


Because if you don’t write good enough, you need to know. And yes, if you feel that hostile and think the guy is a jerk, your writing is likely crap.

This does not mean that the story and the idea is not good stuff. Neither does it mean that you will never, ever become a great writer. We have all written crap in the beginning. We all write things from time to time that go down in the cylindrical archive.

Bad criticism is not against you. It is aimed at your script. And no matter how much of your passion and pain and love and sweat you have put on those pages, it is still just letters forming words that forms a story for the reader, nothing more. If you have not succeeded to get your passion and pain and love and sweat into suitable words and sentences, it does not matter how much body fluids you have spilled to write it.

Your writing is your product. If it does not stand on its own bringing its message through, you as a writer is the sole responsible for this. It is not the reader’s fault.

Now, what about those crazy, nutcase advises to the story; those ideas that would ruin the whole story? Should I really write what others tell me to write?

No, of course not. You should listen to every advise and all feedback, but don’t take it by the letter. If you get a suggestion that would ruin your story, ask yourself why you get this advice. Probably you have not made a setup good enough to motivate the story as it is now. Remember that you need to explain through your characters and their environment why they do as they do. You cannot just presume that we are all on the same level as you. Much of that kind of feedback is simply based on the writer’s assumption that we all think the same and value the same things. It easily done. But even if you think the readers are idiots who don’t get it, you must remind yourself that if you want to get this magnificent, perfect story through to us jerks (who could just as much be a potential producer) you need to let us know the characters and understand their world.

If you think your script is prefect as it is, let your mom read it. Don’t ask for feedback unless you can take it. And always be kind to those bastards who took their time to read your script, or you will regret it the time you wake up and realizes that you have been the jerk.