Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On Feedback

Getting and giving feedback can be, at its best, exhilarating; at its worst, deeply depressing.

I heard a suggestion once that the best way to give feedback on a script is to pass comment in the form of questions. “Do you think he would do this?” is infinitely easier to take than the judgemental, “He wouldn't do this..."

And it immediately forces you to find solutions.

If you still want your character to behave in this way, then you may need to add or subtract some information/ scenes/ dialogue earlier, on character or story, that will allow this action to feel credible. Maybe we need to know your character a bit better, feel what is driving them, what is making them irrational for us to believe their action at this point.

Or have you forced your character to do something because the plot wants it, in which case, you have cheated your character. And this requires more serious thought. In the best films, character drives story, not plot; also then, if there are holes, the audience is more forgiving because they are too busy enjoying the world you have created.

So, feedback as questions, a more gentle way of directing a writer to where problems lie for you, the reader, in their story.

Mind you, there are times when you really, really want someone just to tell you straight what’s wrong and then it feels as clear as a frozen lake. You’ve known it all along, subconsciously. All you have to do is dive back in again and pull your story free.

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