Thursday, May 3, 2018

Reader question: how to get writing feedback before submitting for class?

Jason writes in with a question:

I'm currently in a graduate program for English and Creative Writing and am finishing up my first screenwriting course. I appreciate your blog's very helpful information about what not to do to get a script read. In our class, we're told to get our work reviewed and critiqued by friends and family before submitting it. However, since the readers are friends and family, most of the feedback is a very unhelpful "I like it. Good job. Very interesting. Didn't know you could write." 

What I'm hoping you have is some advice for those in school trying to figure out where to focus their efforts and what to work on so their money isn't a complete waste. It seems that getting read by industry professionals would be the right picture, but as you've stated in many blog posts, industry professionals are understandably busy and there are legal concerns with reading scripts. So my question is, is there a format or opportunity to gain industry insight on a script without submitting it for filming consideration?

There are reading services, but most of them charge a lot of money for feedback and - in my opinion - most of them aren't terribly reputable. I have a hard enough time finding places to recommend for writers looking for feedback as they submit professionally - I don't think I know of any places that would be useful for writing students just needing feedback before they turn something in for a grade.

Is it at all possible for several of you in class to start a writing group where you exchange work amongst yourselves and provide feedback? That kind of peer review can be useful. Yes, you're being critiqued by people who are still on your level, but by virtue of being your classmates, they'll be a bit more informed than friends and family who merely can offer the obligatory "good job."

In your situation, that's what I'd be doing.

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