Scriptwriter's Shed

The joy, the pain, and the long journey from script to screen.

Script Reports – Ouch!

Script Reports – Ouch!


Despair… helplessness… fear… frustration… anger… just some of the feelings that began to well up in me as my eyes raced across the script report.

I’d handed my ‘baby’ over to experienced and well-respected reader/writer/director, Danny Stack, hoping beyond hope that it would be on its best behaviour – praying that it wouldn’t even need so much as a nappy change in my absence. But hope does not a writer make. My babysitter came back to me with heartbreaking tales of characterisation and structure weakness and it became apparent that he had had no choice but to order my baby to bed without any supper – unruly as it was.

Feeling deflated, I dared to read the report again a few hours later. I quickly began to realise that those initial feelings had only come about because I knew, deep down, that everything Danny had picked up on in the report was true. I’d known all along that I’d made fatal errors, but I’d written and rewritten the script so many times that I wasn’t even sure what they were any more. Suddenly, there they were, as clear as day.

The insight of an experienced reader can prove invaluable, especially if the reader in question not only tells you where you are going wrong but also takes the time to suggest ways in which you might put things right, which, thankfully, was the case here. That kind of life raft can open up a whole new creative chapter in a writer’s mind and ultimately save him from completely losing heart in a project.

As writers, we are constantly encouraged not to take criticism of our work personally and this is sound advice. But script reports, by their very nature, have to be brutally honest and that can sometimes hurt. There were plenty of positive comments in the report I received, but I was so busy beating myself up that I didn’t even see them at first. Don’t beat yourself up! The positives are just as important as the negatives.

If you’re cut out for this writing lark, you’ll instinctively learn how to recognise when something isn’t right and when there is room for improvement, even if you’re not sure exactly where the errors are. You’ll learn how and when to use your own judgement above others’, and how to apply as much or as little of the advice you receive to your writing or rewriting.

As a writer it’s natural to make mistakes. Embrace them. Learn from them… and write better.


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