My agent read my treatment and then emailed me yesterday to say it was nearly ready, but could I add a couple more bits to clarify a relationship. I’ve spent just over two months working hard on the treatment, going through several drafts. I could have easily said, “I’m done, it’s ready, send it out,” but my agent’s feedback, like any good feedback, is vital. Working on anything for that length of time and that closely, can blind you to its faults. You need a fresh pair of experienced eyes.
Feedback on your script/treatment/one page pitch is important, it helps you identify faults and give you the tools to correct them. It helps you to rewrite and rewriting is the life blood of all writers. Feedback is something every successful writer craves and actively seeks. Without it they die.
It’s all very easy as new writer to spend weeks, maybe even months writing a screenplay and then think it’s the bee’s balls and as soon as you send it out it’s going to be snapped up for bag full of money. I’ve made that mistake and so have many other writers I know. The truth is the first draft of anything is crap, no matter if you think otherwise. What makes us different is that we recognised our naivety and have worked hard since to make everything we write the best we can possibly make it. It’s not been an easy journey, I can promise you that.
There are even new writers who actively avoid feedback, because they can’t take criticism even when it’s constructive. I’ve had nasty emails sent to me in the past after giving feedback, telling me I don’t know what I’m on about and why can’t I recognise the writer’s obvious genius. All readers at some point get emails like that, it’s unavoidable and very counterproductive for the writer. If the reader thinks your work isn’t up to standard it’s a sure bet a producer is going to think that too and will just send it back, or bin it. To improve at anything in life it’s vitally important that you can take criticism, otherwise you won’t advance, learn, or better yourself.
To make your screenplay the best it can be and of a standard that will make production companies sit up and take notice you have to have feedback and the right kind of feedback is important. Friends and writers at the same level as you are helpful for identifying the obvious faults, but for more in depth analysis of your screenplay you need a professional reader and will have to pay for their services.
Why should I use a professional reader?
Most professional readers have been trained to identify what’s wrong with a screenplay and offer suggestions on how to fix it. They are not just going by gut instinct. The better ones will have worked as readers for production companies so are well aware of the common faults in scripts submitted to producers and the reasons 99% of them are rejected.
Why should I pay for feedback when I can get my friends to give me feedback for free?
As above. If your friends are at the same level in their career as you their advice, although helpful, won’t be at the level you need to help you take a step up. If you want experience and professional insight then a reader is a must, they are the ones to help you really get to the heart of your screenplay’s problems and fix them. Even professional writers with long careers in TV and film use the services of readers, just to get another set of eyes to look at their work. You don’t have to keep shelling out pound notes for several sets of notes on just one screenplay. Get your friends and fellow writers to feedback on it first, then when you think it might be ready pay a reader to take a look. That way you won’t bankrupt yourself and will get the help you need. The benefits far out weigh any cost.