First Draft Finished – Notes and Guns


It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got a polished first draft of my pilot out for notes. It’s such a relief. For the first time in my life I feel like… writing a good script is actually doable.  It doesn’t seem as daunting as a task anymore. Don’t get me wrong, a shit ton of work and time went into those 60 pages, but it can actually be done. I know this now.  And it makes me relieved.

I have received a first round of notes back from friends, family, and respected colleagues, and they all have one thing in common — they really like it. I am overjoyed at this news. Because no matter how good you think your screenplay is… there is always that little voice in your head screaming, “YOU SUCK, THIS SCREENPLAY IS A PIECE OF SHIT!” Now that I know it doesn’t suck, I can just work on making it better.

This is the first time I’ve sent something out for notes, and it’s really interesting to see what different people have to say. Which notes do you seriously consider? Which notes do you blow off…  This can be were things get tricky. I’ve set a few ground rules.

Stick to Your Guns: Some people just aren’t going to like certain aspects of your script. It’s a given. So if someone doesn’t like something that you put in there on purpose — something that you think makes your script what it is — don’t change it. Ever. Stick to your guns!!! You can’t change your script a million times to please everyone. You made this for a reason. If one person doesn’t like something, I wouldn’t put too much thought into it. It’s probably just their personal taste, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Compare Notes: If more than one person has the same note… I believe that is worth some serious thought — and if 3 or more people have the same note, I think you’ve definitely got a problem to work on.  Sometimes the notes aren’t EXACTLY the same, but if one person said your main character’s voices are similar, and another person said all your characters seem unlikable, and another person asked why you had so many main characters — you know you have SOME problem with your main characters — and although 3 people expressed this problem 3 different ways, they really all mean the same thing — work on diversifying and simplifying your main characters.

RECIPROCATE: No matter how much you might hate certain notes, always thank the person who gave them to you a MILLION times over. ANYONE willing to take the time out of your day to read your script deserves thanks. If they ever hand you a script in the future, you better fucking read it and give them notes back as well.

SIDE NOTE:  Get an editor. No, you don’t have to pay someone. Have a grammar nazi friend read over your screenplay before you ever send it out. It will make your screenplay seem more professional, as well as save everyone from giving you the same grammar notes. I guarantee you know at least one person who is meticulous about grammar — if you read my blog that person is most certainly not me.   I literally just spelt grammar wrong three times in a row and had to go fix them.

I’ll probably be working on a 2nd draft soon to send back out for quick notes.  And then I’ll face something I’ve never faced before —

Next time on 12pt  “I HAVE A PILOT FINISHED, NOW WHAT?”

cause seriously… I have no idea.

2 Replies to “First Draft Finished – Notes and Guns”

  1. Congratulations — finally finishing ANY piece of writing (assuming we’re ever really, truly finished) is an accomplishment. As a good friend of mine (and one very good writer) once told me: “It feels great for about three weeks… then you come back to earth.”

    And as someone who plowed through five seemingly interminable drafts of a novel, I can tell you he was right…

    But hey, those three weeks are indeed sweet — so enjoy.

    For some far more meaningful words of advice, I offer you the following quote from Raymond Chandler:

    “Don’t write anything you don’t like yourself, and if you do like it, don’t take anyone’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know.”

    True, that — they just don’t know…unless “they” all say the same thing. But that’s what re-writes are for.

    Good luck with the pilot.

  2. @hollywoodjuicer – IT DID FEEL GREAT!!! But now all I can think about is how do I make it better, and what am I going to write next?

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