Script Coverage Chronicles – February 2015: Why Negative Feedback Doesn’t Matter

All screenwriters deal with it: the dreaded negative review.  Does it mean you have no talent?  Does it mean you should give up?  Absolutely, positively not!  Here’s why:

Every Script Gets Negative Feedback

I remember watching Guardians of the Galaxy with my family.  A half hour into it, my daughter said it was boring and left the room.  My son hung on for about an hour, but ultimately said it didn’t interest him.  My wife said, “This is stupid.”

So in this particular poll, 3 out of 4 viewers gave this movie a definitive thumbs down.  They gave it very negative feedback.  Does that mean the story isn’t good?  Does that mean the writers are hopeless hacks?

Hell no.

Within the first few minutes of Guardians, I was thinking, wow, the writers (James Gunn and Nicole Perlman) have some serious talent.  They wrote for the eyes and the ears, with imaginative visuals and snappy, genuinely funny dialogue.  Many people agree with me, including those in control of the WGA nominations.

If a movie like Guardians can get its share of very negative reviews, then you can bet that just about every script (of every level of quality) can and will get the same.

So next time you get a bad review (which anyone who writes prolifically will get from time to time), don’t sweat it.  If you tend to take chances, and all good writers do in one way or another, then it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into this kind of thing. 

If it happens to be the first review of a new script, that’s unfortunate and can feel like a kick in the gut, but it’s still very possible that your script is excellent.  It may appeal to 9 out of 10 readers, and you may have simply started with the 1 out of 10.

Even if you get a lot of negative reviews on a script, it doesn’t mean your story is “bad”.  It just means you may need to adjust your execution.

It’s not like singing.  If you can’t hit a note, there’s no fixing that.  But I truly believe that with enough effort every writer can eventually produce a strong script. 

Natural talent can make the process quicker and easier – true, but in the end the only “talent” anyone in this industry really cares about is getting it done.  And if a script is good, no one in Hollywood cares how long you took to write it.

One, two or even ten negative reviews end up not mattering at all if those reviews are on a prior draft that looks nothing like your final product.  That final product is what you’re shooting for – the ultimate version of your vision that will perform consistently, get you work and maybe even get made.

Will even that version get negative feedback once in a while?

Of course it will.

Every script gets negative feedback.