Notes. They’re no fun!

I’m helping a friend with her screenplay. For free! What a mensch.

She’s told me her story and I gave her notes. No one likes getting notes. I don’t like it. I bet Tom Stoppard doesn’t, either. (Happy birthday Tom!)

This is what I sent to my friend in an email this morning:


Just be sure you don’t anything I suggested if you don’t think it really helps.
Some of my ideas are just whims. i.e., stupid ideas that would prove horribly destructive…
Some, of course, are genius.

Do spend a bit of time thinking about each one, before you reject it, in case it may have merit.

Everyone’s reactions to a note (this came to me from an actor)…
1.) “Fuck you.”
2.) I suck.
3.) Okay. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work on this.
I’ve been doing this umpteen years and I still go through all those steps, every time. It’s agony. I can never go straight to 3. So, I keep reading the notes and slowly my anger dies away and I begin to listen. Though, some of them are always going to be crap. It’s the winnowing that is tough.


So, if you get notes, do listen to them politely. Write down EVERYTHING the reader says. Something that seems moronic in the heat of the moment, may, in a week, be revealed to be the Key to the Kingdom.
Go over them again and again until you are sure you have done all the ones you agree with.

Notes are precious. And, at the same time…
Notes are no fun.
But, they are very, very helpful.


1 Comment

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One response to “Notes. They’re no fun!

  1. Carole

    Reading a book entitled, It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences–a writer’s guide to crafting killer sentences, by June Casagrande
    She writes the reader is king and writer the servant. This perspective can help us relish notes as a pathway to understanding rather than a rebuke.

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