I be a good righter.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Consider this!

I like readers. A lot of my friends are readers. Hell, I used to be a reader. So, I like 'em.

This is not the norm in LA. The norm is to hate readers if you're a writer. The norm is to hate notes. Coverage. Anything that may prevent your script from getting made, or you getting on staff, or getting that agent. I get it. It's hard to hear that your baby may be ugly. But, is it better to hear that your baby's ugly while it's still in utero, when there's something you might be able to change (okay, just bear with me, medical rationale should be put aside)? Or, after it's been born and it's out in the world, and you can't change a word?

I love harsh notes. I give them. I want them. I will work my ass off on a script, and I know that sometimes I miss the boat, story-wise, character-wise. You know why? I'm not perfect. So, I give my script to my group of readers. Some of the readers are pansy-ass readers (don't get me wrong, I love them as people) who have nary a bad thing to say about my scripts. And, that's nice... if your reader's Paula Abdul. I prefer Simon Cowell. I only have two friends who take the Simon Cowell approach. And, every time I give my scripts to them, they rip it to shreds.

One of these friends, a few years back, read my script. I was really proud of this script, it had come out of some serious shit, and I thought this script was going to be IT. Not so. My friend told me that it was well-written (yay!), but that the story was boring as hell.

Wait, what?

I love this friend to pieces. She's a way better writer than I'll ever be. AND, she's hot, like, she used to be a model. Sometimes I hate her. But, because I respect her opinion so much, I had to take a look at the boring story I'd told in this script. Without my rose-colored, I'm-so-awesome glasses on, the story was, in fact, boring. We workshopped the hell out of the script, and came up with ways to make the story more compelling. I'd love to say that it's the script that got me on staff, but I'm not there, yet. The point is, she gave me a note that was really really hard to hear: My baby was ugly. But, I'd rather get that note from her than have my script passed on later -- where I'm sure to have found that the coverage would reveal: "A competently written script, but, mind-blowingly boring. PASS!"

Most writers, in my humble opinion, like to blame anyone but themselves. And, I say, stop placing blame anywhere but your own doorstep. Oh, you may catch the occasional reader on a bad day and your brilliant script will get a pass. But, for the most part, that Pass begins with you.

Many writers like the Paula Abdul approach. Many writers want you to go by the old adage, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. I don't know that I agree with this. Nice things should be said, if there are nice components to the script. Like, if something's really working -- to illustrate what's, uh, working.

But, come on. How helpful is, "your courier font is really pretty?"

That's the type of thing the Paula reader would say. And, Randy, too -- though he'll probably think your script a bit pitchy in the middle, dawg. But, when your Simon reader bestows praise it's the most meaningful, because you know he's not just blowing smoke. So, be Simon.

And, the converse is true, too. You need to embrace your Simon readers. I mean, are they actually trying to sabotage you, or trying to be mean? I think not. Go easy, gentle writer. All they're doing is looking at your script with the same objective eye the reader will. And, they're trying to find those parts that might result in a pass, so that you can rewrite your way to a CONSIDER!