The Way To Hear a Note

Say, “Okay.”

That’s it.

Yet, it’s nearly impossible to do. Nobody wants to hear anybody say anything about their work other than, “I weep before you genius.”

Do they ever say that? They do not.

On the other hand, after the meeting, do they tie you up in a dark alley and slit your throat while they show you pictures of your house that they burned that afternoon? They do not. Reality is someplace in between.

Generally, the people giving you a note have your best interest at heart. They have read your script (which took a while!) and they want to help you make it better, so they have suggestions for you.

Sadly, we don’t really WANT those suggestions, but, in the interest of politeness, we should really give a listen. Say, “Okay.” Do NOT say what you feel when someone says, “I don’t really empathize with your main character as much as I think I should.”

The classic three-step process in note-receiving is:
“Fuck you.”
“I suck.”
“Okay, let’s roll up our sleeves and work on this thing.”

Many people stop at Step #1. They do not learn. Their writing does not improve. But they do get the bile out of their system, which I guess is useful, somewhere. Others stop at #2, the self-lacerating step. It too is a normal step in the process. Don’t go there if you can possibly avoid it, or if you do go there, understand that EVERYBODY feels that way, so it’s okay for you to. Try to skip lightly over #1 and #2 and arrive quickly at #3.


And get out your pencil or your laptop and write down EVERY SINGLE THING the person kind enough to burn gray cells on your behalf is going to tell you. Make them feel valued. Write it down. Something you disagree with today and don’t write down, may have been the game-saver.

Say “Okay.” and write it down. Don’t be a porcupine and bristle. Listen, nod, let the pain and agony of imperfection wash away from you… just say “Okay.” As Wilford Brimley used to say, “It’s the right thing to do.”



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5 responses to “The Way To Hear a Note

  1. The correct response to feedback is in fact “thank you”. The reviewer gave you a present, she showed you what she saw in your work.

  2. Rhonda Misson

    I’m so looking forward to reaching point 3

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      You’re not kidding. I know precisely how you feel. I just got notes on a project and I kept smiling and thinking, “She’s being helpful here. Let’s just make the thing BETTER!”

      Of course, good notes are tough to come by. When you find someone who can give you superb notes, be sure you pamper them.

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