Thursday, August 18


I want to take a second to thank everyone who has been coming to my blog to check out the unimportant things I have to say. : )

Who Do You Trust?

Do you value the opinions of others when it comes to your work? Who do you turn to first, when seeking feedback on the latest sentence you've written? How do you know they're telling you the truth?

I'm only just now getting really into the "writing community" that can be found online. People's blogs and Twitter ([at]chambernaut) and whatnot. Real strangers, if you'll excuse the term. I have to is an issue with me. It always has been, even with people I've known for some time. When it comes to my writing, my ideas, and all that, I am so scared that something will happen...and someone will take it and make it their own before I have the chance. I cherish my ideas. These are my babies. Hell, I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that - if any of my screenplays are ever bought - they're likely to be given to someone in the studios to rewrite...and the thing that's created is not my original idea.

But that's the reality of Hollywood and screenwriting. I have to cope with that.

To be honest, that's partially why the two scenes I posted previously are not crucial to the plot. I'm afraid that someone would steal it. Now, the people I've met so far through these blogs have been very nice and open and are gaining my trust in these facets. But I'm just still not comfortable.

So here's the dilemma: Who do I get to read and critique my work?

Now I've heard this before from multiple sources - and even said it myself in a previous post - that you shouldn't seek the approval or opinions of those close to you. Those who intimately know you. I'm talking about family, friends - those types. They're too fond of YOU to really be comfortable giving an honest, and sometimes-necessarily brutal opinion. They can't be trusted. (There are exceptions, of course, to any case)

In order to obtain truly UNBIASED opinions, you must seek out those who do not know you - and preferably have not read your work before. This was why I was so excited when I met the other writer through a mutual friend and we were able to exchange pieces to critique. He provided what I needed: someone who won't tell me what he thinks I want to hear.

That's the problem. I respect the opinions of my friends, and my wife, and my family. But sometimes - and I have to be honest here otherwise this blog means nothing - there are times when I feel like their opinions about my writing are misplaced or uneducated. Because they DON'T spend their time writing like I do. They DON'T read about and study the craft. They DON'T have experience putting together a story. So they don't always understand my reasoning for doing certain things, putting certain pieces in place. In fact, my wife understands this and prefers I DON'T ask her opinion. Haha.

So it's hard, for me, because I know that I cannot always rely on those close by to give me the feedback I need, and make it usable. Yet I have trust issues with "strangers" when it comes to giving out my work for critique. Am I doomed?

What do you do? Do you have a specified, experienced editor? If so, how did you find them and were they already close friends/acquaintances? Do you also have trust issues? How do you overcome them? How do ensure that you're as protected as possible by the copyright laws? What are your copyright methods? Do you find yourself often frustrated with sub-par critique from those who don't write?


  1. I have a friend who is an accomplished comedy writer and screenplay editor who acts as my editor and co-author. I truly think what you need is a friend or someone you trust who knows what they are doing because they'll understand you don't want it candy coated but their advice will guide you rather than derail you.

    As far as copyright, depending on your skills you may need to have the script read before completion of first draft. If you can complete a first draft, register the copyright (about $30) and have it professionally read. Once you're 2-3 drafts in, you should probably re-register in case a lot has changed, and register the script with the WGAw to get a WGA script number.

  2. That's really great advice. I've been considering the WGAw because I know they'll really fight for you if they believe you're in the right. And having someone who's in the business who's an editor or what-have-you is a huge plus, I think.

  3. Well the WGA registration isn't a copyright as some people might suspect. It doesn't offer legal protection, but it's another layer of protection. If you were to sell your script, having it registered with the WGA pins a date on that draft which can help you win arbitration for writing credit if your script gets revised by other studio writers. The crediting process is weird and complicated.

  4. I actually read about the "screenwriting" and "story by" credit requirements. Oh man...that was a headache. They are SUPER complex. And I get the reasoning behind it, but I can't help but think part of it is to try and wrest control away from the original creator(s) of the idea.

  5. Not really, the arbitration process is designed to be unbiased (they pick a WGA member that none of the writers involved know) and you present evidence of your work.

    Major studios, if they fire you from revisions will usually rehire you. It's in your best interest to change back what you can as long as it fits within the studio notes.

    Either way, you're paid. If you lose credit, you lose residuals though.

  6. I belong to the Critique Circle, an online critiquing community where work is protected and safe from internet searches. I also have made good relationships through blogs, writing forums, etc and found people who are at a similar level I'm at to exchange work. Feedback is invaluable. I would not be where I am now without the help of others. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  7. That's a really good idea, Angela. It's nice to know that there are these safe places where people like me can go without that much fear. I will have to look into this at some point. Thanks for commenting!