Monday, July 21, 2008

No, really, my dialog is good

So, in my life as a reader, not to be confused with my life as a writer, producer, director, or camera operator, I read A LOT of scripts. One of my clients even sends the coverage back to the writer with all of my comments. Which is fine, but it inevitably means that I get e-mails from writers begging me to change their grade from a pass to a recommend.

So, I wish to recount one story that recently happened. I had finished a rather bizarre animated script, and submitted my coverage for it. I thought the dialog was fact I gave it a 1 on a scale of 1-5. It was set a long time ago, but the dialog was contemporary, on-the-nose, boring, bland, and awful.

However, the writer wrote me back, insisting "the dialog was fresh, witty, and original. A breath of fresh air". He didn't use the words, I thought, no. He said it as if it was a fact. Now, of course I had to tell him that I thought differently, and though it was one man's opinion, it was the correct one.

but, this brings up a good point in your writing...there is no need to defend it. If someone doesn't understand something, you have to look and consider it as something that is deficient in your script. You will not be in the theatre to tell the people what your script is really saying, so there is no need to do it to me now. Instead, take comments you get, and figure out why it didn't work. You can explain yourself, and your intentions and ask questions about why it didn't work. But, there is no use defending your script.

Another example, I belong to the scriptwriter's network's tv writer's group. this past week, i had a script reviewed by them. It was a half hour sitcom, and I had never done a half-hour. So, I was anxious to see how it went over. And, unfortunately, it didn't go so well. The structure was off as was the characterization. Now, when i say this, it wasn't off my a ton, but it was off enough that it wasn't clear what my true intentions are.

However, when I was getting notes, the people gave suggestions that I was actually intending to be in the story. This character should do this...hmmm, I thought my character was already doing that. But, instead of complaining that my character was already like that, I said...interesting, that was my intention. Now, I have to go back and make sure my intention is coming across on the screen. I came home and immediately began re-writing and came up with a draft I think addresses all of the concerns.

Once again, it wasn't big overhauling that I did with the script, but USING, not DISMISSING, the comments made the script better, more understandable, and eventually more commercial.

So, if you ever find yourself looking at a reader, whether a professional one or a friend, and saying...hey, you are wrong, x IS something even if you don't get it, stop yourself. It's not the case at all. SOMEONE didn't get it. You are too close to it. Take the comment go back, and try to make it a little clearer...of course, not everyone is always right, and you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

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