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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

How Well Do You Know Your Writing?

Got the feedback, as mentioned, from my writing group last night. While I am certainly more critical of my own writing than apparently any of the other people there were (and thus it didn't feel like they tore me a new one, as Emily suggested in the comments to my last post), they definitely highlighted a number of things that I hadn't thought of. Some were definitely things I will incorporate/change, others which I'll think about, but will probably ignore. (That's what you should really do with all feedback, by the way -- consider it open-mindedly, but don't take it as capital-T-Truth. Trust your gut, of course, to a certain degree too.)

Anyway, what surprised me most about the feedback was where their comments diverged from my own thoughts about the script. One of the major ones was the vamps vs. Western aspect. One of my main goals with this script was to have a pretty even balance of Western material and vampire movie stuff. I feel that is one of the things that always made the previous vampire Western scripts that were laughed out of town flawed -- they just set a vampire story in the old West, but that was it. So I strove for a story, characters, theme, etc. that balanced the two evenly.

Still, following my execution, I felt that things came down too much on the vampire side of things, and less on the Western side. According to all those in attendance, however, this was not the case. They all felt the opposite -- more Western than vampire movie. And in retrospect, when I think about it, I kind of see where they are coming from with the comment, and I have some stuff to think about for rewrites.

There were other things which I felt weren't working as well as they could, but the group felt they weren't problems. Of course, there were the inevitable issues that people raised that I hadn't noticed, but that's to be expected, and was the point of getting feedback in the first place.

Still, all of these things raise an interesting issue. I thought I had a pretty good handle on where my script stood (minus the things which I hadn't noticed, which I expected), but apparently I largely misjudged a number of aspects. So, how well did I really know my own script? How problematic is it that I didn't have the right feel of things? How likely is it that I've misjudged other aspects that simply weren't raised?

Mind you, I'm not questioning everything about my writing. I know it is in the ballpark, etc. I'm just curious, more than concerned, about some of those points.

How well can anyone know their own work? How well do you?

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Anonymous Unk said...

I think for most, it's hard to trust your gut -- even to a certain degree, until they've written a few screenplays. On top of that, unless you really have knowledge of the craft -- which, it seems, most do not -- how well can one actually trust their gut?

My own experience has been that those that 1000% trust their gut are the same that barely know the craft and hence, not too open for feedback... In fact, it's almost as if they just want you to read their script and tell them how great it is.

The ones that are OPEN to feedback always seem to be the ones that know a hell of a lot more about the craft but tend to trust their gut a little less.

Good post!


1:50 PM  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

I know my own writing better than the back of my hand because, quite honestly, I don't ever look at the back of my hand.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Christina Shaver said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Christina Shaver said...

What's writing? Communication. If the reactions weren't intended, the communication's not right. In writing this is true regardless of presentation -- screenplay, short story, poem, feature article.

So for me, I listen to my gut very rarely. I know what I'm trying to say. But is it coming across? I do take feedback with a capital T, Truth. It is somebody's truth. And if somebody didn't get what I wrote, well, that's my fault.

The wonderful moments are when writing takes on deeper meaning for someone than what you expected or a serendipitous perspective you didn't intend. Then it becomes more than communication -- it becomes art.

4:55 AM  
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5:18 AM  

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