Monday, November 26, 2007

merits of feedback

I've blogged briefly about feedback but I think it might be useful to go into more depth especially since feedback on my latest script has varied so much in quality and usefulness.

I think there are basically 6 types of feedback

1) The mum (best friend) feedback. Well we all know what this is like - usually over the top, complimentary, uncritical and non-analytical, always delivered verbally and ends with "well I know you're a good story teller anyway." The best thing about the mum/best friend feedback is that it is quick - they read it usually before anyone else. The worse thing is the lack of impartiality.
However, I have been wondering lately whether it is possible to combine the mum /best friend feedback with the
Michael Arndt feedback sheet.
If you hand your mum/best friend a printed sheet where they have to rate particular categories of your script from 1- 10 and also rate the weakest elements - then perhaps it could be more helpful....hmmmm?

2) The spot on feedback - usually comes from someone older and wiser than the writer. This feedback is from someone who knows you, knows your writing, your narrative leanings, your weak spots, your inspirations, your motivators. This is the most valuable feedback you can get - because not only does it hone in on exactly what is wrong with a particular script but it presents that information to you in a wholly acceptable manner and thus propels you towards writing greatness.. ahem. The 'spot-on' feedback is always correct. It can say when the idea is completely off the boil and should be abandoned.
The downside to such feedback - is that it is rarely available 'on demand' so there's a tendency for the writer to over-rely on it. Remember the feedback favours must be returned with as much wisdom as can be mustered.

3) The mish-mash feedback. The mish-mash feedback is your average, everyday run-of-the-mill feedback containing some moments of brilliance yet little to surprise the writer. It is quite likely that the mish-mash feedback person does not respond particularly well to your story or was not excited by the writing.The mish-mash feedback is indecisive and contains mixed messages which tend to confuse the writer.

4) The slasher feedback. This is feedback from someone who either doesn't really 'get' the story at all or who only ever scanned the script - but nevertheless considers their opinion to be both important and useful. Slasher feedback is delivered with confidence and aplomb and holds little regard for the writer. Slasher feedback is characterised by negative phrases, snarky witticisms - and always demonstrates a lack of ability to see a way through any narrative difficulties. The slasher may even take it upon themselves to cut up your script for you and send you back a mutilated or completely re-arranged version of your text for your appraisal.
It is worth reading the slasher feedback with care, as on occasion, there can be the odd suggestion which may prove valuable ..

5) The late feedback. There's the feedback that always comes after you have sent your script off - usually from a busy person. Luckily it usually confirms all the strengths and weaknesses that you have acknowledged in your script and therefore rarely creates much agitation.

6) The executive feedback is frequently paradoxical or confusing. Never wanting to appear mistaken, it tends to be short and convoluted. This type of feedback usually accompanies a 'no'. The 'no' can arrive quickly or slowly. However if the 'no' comes from someone high up, who has obviously read the entire script - within a week of it being sent, then don't be disheartened - because that's really not too bad at all.....


potdoll said...

Mmmm, spot-on feedback. Delicious.

Elinor said...

I agree, particularly with the Michael Arndt idea. I have one friend to whom I give comedy scripts. All I ever ask her is: Did it make you laugh? If she says no, then I'm in trouble...