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Alwl feedback

Giving and receiving feedback on Create50 screenplays

We thought we should offer guidance on giving and receiving feedback as it is the cornerstone of the Create50 experience.

When giving Feedback

Not everyone is an expert… yet!
We need to remember that people submitting scripts will be at different stages in their writing careers. For some this could be their very first script, so we want to encourage and offer support even if we find fault in their work.

Please be sensitive
This is a community and SUPPORT group. Not everyone is an experienced and hardened writer accustomed to tough, direct feedback.  Consider your words and how they may land for the person on the receiving end.

Constructive feedback
Please resist the temptation to respond overly emotionally or negatively. If you don’t like something, step back, and look for the merits before you point out the downfalls.

Offer solutions
If you feel you can only provide negative feedback on a script, please offer solutions to the writer also, and choose your negative words CAREFULLY.

Grammar, typos and script formatting
Bad grammar, typos, language ambiguities and poor script formatting can become frustrating for the reader. That said, many of our writers are new to the process so please try to focus on the narrative first. If you must point out technical errors, please do so at the end and with brevity. No-one wants to read a page long critique about grammar, typos and formatting and then one line about the story or characters. Also, remember that English is not the first language for many of our writers and some (like Chris Jones who runs Create50) will also be dyslexic and rely on spell checkers and feedback to correct errors that to some may appear silly or lazy. They may not be.  

Offer emotional support
Sometimes we just need to say ‘keep going, I am looking forward to the next draft’. Even if you don’t review a script, a simple ‘well done and keep going’ could make all the difference to someone who has had a barrage of crushing feedback.

The long term
Remember, everyone is reading your feedback and you may be judged on it.  A consistently negative reviewer runs the risk of developing a bad reputation. Further down the line when filmmakers are looking to choose scripts and writers with whom to collaborate, you may be perceived as ‘high maintenance’.  Remember that the tone of your feedback is paramount to your success as a team player.

Receiving Feedback:

Don’t take it personally
If you don’t like what someone writes about your script, that’s OK. It’s not OK to retaliate. Take all feedback graciously even if you disagree. Remember people are investing their time to help you and your career. If you disagree with their comments, that it is fine, it is only an opinion, but please be gracious and thank them for taking the time to help you.

Be open minded
Don’t expect all feedback to go a certain way. If one reviewer gives it one star and another gives it five, both reviewers are correct. It is their opinion after all. We all see something different in every story. Try to get past the ‘tone’ of comments that might upset and find the useful feedback in the message. 

Short or long?
Some people will offer short and often very direct feedback, others will offer longer and more meandering thoughts. Both are useful though the shorter and direct feedback can sometimes be read as hostile or patronising. It’s most likely not and almost always offered with the ambition of improving your script. Don’t take it personally.

Do not retaliate or over react
It makes you look unprofessional and overly sensitive. No-one will want to work with you. Better to disagree graciously. And remember, they may be right!

If everyone says the same…
If one person says one thing, that’s an opinion. If ten people say the same thing, you might want to listen.

Check out who is leaving feedback
Some people leave better feedback than others. Some people leave more feedback than others. If you like or agree with feedback, give it a green thumbs up. This will help rate the quality of feedback offered by individuals, and the more ratings we get, the more accurate the system will become. So please, thumbs up or down for any feedback you feel strongly about (positive or negative). This is what you will see on feedback pages, please use it.

Star ratings
Please don’t fixate on the star ratings as we use them ONLY as a guide and NOT as part of the final judging process. We also use an algorithm to calculate the ratings, so it’s not as simple as three plus three equals six. We are also evolving this algorithm to increase accuracy.

Above all…
Please thank people for their support as a lot of their time is invested in writing detailed feedback. Even if you disagree with the feedback, always be courteous and gracious.

Finally…

The journey is long and it has only just begun.

Your success as a screenwriter depends on both your writing ability AND your ability to take criticism and collaborate.

Filmmaking at ALL levels is a team effort.

Remember, this should always be fun. If giving or receiving feedback ceases to be fun, if it ceases to ignite your creativity and passion, then maybe this process is not for you.

Good luck and remember… Read the feedback and redraft. Refine and improve.

Please feel free to offer your own thoughts below also.

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Your Thoughts

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Tracey Parsons, Posted: 02 Jun 11:52

I think that's really helpful guidance. I realised that posting feedback is every bit as exposing and open to criticism as posting a script! I have found it difficult to comment on a piece that I think needs more work, but as that's what I want for my scripts so that I can improve them, I try to find a way to give my opinion and hope that the writer takes it in the spirit it's intended. One tip is that it can help to say 'I think' rather than stating opinion as fact.

For me it has been valuable to be brave and post both scripts and feedback - a huge learning opportunity :-)

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amar nerurkar, Posted: 02 Jun 13:08

Absolutely true.

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Chris Jones, Posted: 02 Jun 13:18

Thanks @Tracey, yes it's a balance between directness, brevity and sensitivity. And not everyone has the same thickness of skin or indeed 'hear words' in the same way. Intention is always the main thing. If correcting mistakes is your intention, that won't get the same results as improving someones script as an intention. They may look very similar but come from different emotions and places. Thanks for being such a long standing supporter of Create50. You ROCK!

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Jane Hamer, Posted: 02 Jun 14:31

This guidance is absolutely spot on Chris. I always try to think of the stage each writer might be at before leaving feedback.

I wonder if a little banner/link to this article could pop up on the feedback page, just as a reminder? Because I wonder how many people might miss this? Just a thought, but I realise it may be too difficult or time consuming amongst all the other work you're doing.

Thanks :)

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Chris Jones, Posted: 02 Jun 14:52

@Jane that's a great idea and we will do that. Thank you.

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Carole Trowbridge, Posted: 12 Aug 19:40

I've come to this a bit late and now I'm kicking myself for not getting moving sooner because it's such an awesomely fab process! Your guidance notes are spot on and really helped me have the confidence to get started. Thanks loads for all you do.

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Chris Jones, Posted: 13 Aug 07:50

Great Carole, I am looking forward to reading your stuff. GO GO GO!

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Bernie Drake, Posted: 13 Aug 04:40

Thank you for posting guidelines - what a wonderful way to share and also gain knowledge.

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Chris Jones, Posted: 13 Aug 07:48

Thanks Bernie, look forward to reading your stuff

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Julie Stewart, Posted: 13 Aug 12:30

I'm very new here, I joined in order to submit to "Impact" - and as soon as I submit the script that I'm working on I will settle down to reading and commenting. These guidelines are just what I needed.

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Chris Jones, Posted: 13 Aug 13:32

Thanks Julie, yes just get stuck in and get into the conversation. We are all here to help and support each other.
CJx

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Janet van Eeden, Posted: 19 Oct 18:04

Interesting character study. Think it could be a good short film if expanded. Not too sure if it refers enough to the Impact which is immanent? Just feel there should be one line referring to it - a bit more directly - from Kitten. Good characters though.

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Janet van Eeden, Posted: 19 Oct 18:05

Oops I'm also new to this site and think I commented on a screenplay I've just read under the wrong forum. Can't seem to delete it. Sorry.

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Brian Clark, Posted: 21 Dec 16:48

My head is always full of ideas for plays, films, TV, and radio but I never get down to actually writing anything - there is always something else that, at the time, seems more important.
However, even I should be able to write two pages of script for this great project.
Better put the kettle on first though.

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Gillian Brightmore, Posted: 24 Dec 10:26

Writing ?
One word after the other ... @ Stephen King.

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Brian Clark, Posted: 25 Dec 11:03

One word after another ... of course! Now, what should my first word be? I'd better put the kettle on and give it some thought!

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Debbie Harvey, Posted: 24 Dec 05:53

These guidelines have given me the confidence to submit work this year. I have wanted to get into writing for a long time.

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Chris Jones, Posted: 24 Dec 09:42

Thats great, we look forward to reading your work

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