Monday, August 8


Ladies and gentlemen, I do now so proudly present my reaction to my first, unofficial and unbiased review of my work so far. Please turn off all cell phones, pagers and electronic devices and refrain from any flash photography, as it frightens the writing. Thank you.

Do you only have finished work critiqued?

In my previous post, "Cavalry", I mentioned making a friend who is a writer (or a person who enjoys writing, however he wants to identify himself :D). I mentioned the excitement at possibly helping each other out by reviewing our work. This is necessary - and I say "necessary" more generally, not so much that I need to be the one - because artists and creators and usually very critical of their work...and require unbiased opinions. Basically, someone who doesn't know the person and doesn't have a personal history that could possibly be at stake based on how you review their creation. I say "unofficial" above because this person is not a script doctor and does not run a paid script reviewing service. This is just writer to writer.

So a real quick progress update: I am into Act 2 of the script, and have reached a temporary stopping point in terms of moving forward. I have since gone back through the first Act to strengthen it and add scenes that I felt needed to be there. The script is about 50 pages now. This is what I sent to my friend.

I am grateful that he agreed to read it in the first place. I am more grateful that he provided such a detailed and lengthy critique. It shows me that he cares about the story and, further, the success of the completed project. I do want a review from someone who doesn't care at some point...but not quite yet.

So, the following were the strongest points he made:

  • Expository dialog instead of showing it
  • My "action" text being too book-form
  • More character differentiation and staying true to those characters
  • Other general dialog issues
In response to his review, I did do a bit of defending...but I do not believe it was a knee-jerk defense. I accepted his critique, and am all the better for it. I cannot wait to go back through and take a closer look at what he said. But there were certain things that needed defending simply because of their nature.

For example my direction and "action", the business of the script, was written too much in "prose form". This was something that I know and do purposefully. I have mentioned in previous blog posts that I am writing without any specific structure - just a general one. This includes writing in details that will later be removed or translated. I enjoy writing in this format, explaining how characters feel at certain times, and the purpose behind their actions, right in the business. This helps me for later, when I do more streamlining. I can turn those thoughts into actions or that purpose can become visible. I don't like to nail things down too securely until the first draft is finished. I want to be able to look at everything at a distance in order to zoom in on the details.

The second thing I had to explain were a couple of character-based things. One was how I had a brief voice-over "monologue" type deal in the beginning being made by a young boy. He mentioned two things: how the words being said were beyond the child's years and that, since there was a young boy on the screen we did not need the monologue. The thing about this monologue is thatboth of those very valid points do serve a greater purpose within the script and story. Since the script was not finished when my friend read it, I cannot blame him for that critique - because, otherwise, he would have been correct.

The other character-based thing that I had to defend was Jacob's character flaw. And here is where I realized something that hadn't occurred to me before - if I have to defend and explain Jacob's flaw...then it's not obvious or at least sincere. So I now know I have to strengthen that and make it more apparent.

Other than that, he made all very valid, very poignant observations. I know that there's dialog that needs work, I know that there are characters that need some reworking and some tweaking. Basically, my work is not done. Not that it ever was before my friend's review, but I'm glad to have had this information now...and not later when I may have been more unaware of it. 

I'm excited to start posting excerpts from my exercise! Very soon! In fact, I may just put up one of my favorite scenes so far.

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