Screenwriting : Where to get first draft feedback? by Melissa Papel

Melissa Papel

Where to get first draft feedback?

Hello everyone! I am just about to finish the 1st draft of a sci-fi /drama series that I’m developing. What would you say is the best place to get feedback (in regards to the structure, dialogues etc)? I don’t necessarily want to send it to my “VIP” contacts from the industry just yet, even though I’m sure they’d be very helpful but, I prefer to save those contacts for when I’ll have a 2nd or 3rd improved draft. Where do you usually get your feedback from, without spending a fortune? Thanks in advance for your help and advice!

Melissa Papel

PS: also I don’t want to send it to too many people because I am too scared of getting too many contradicting notes and ideas and criticism so I need to choose wisely the people I will send it to! Preferably people who really know about a pilot structure etc. Thanks again!

Brian Smith

Hi Melissa, I'm a professional reader, and my rates are competitive. I've read for studios, as well as Stage 32 in the past.Stage32 also has some very good readers, and the rates are pretty reasonable. Take a look at my web site if you get a chance and let me know if you'd be interested in using my service. http://monumentscripts.com/

Rob Jones

Besides my trusted co-writers and a few people I normally swap scripts with I have often used Zoetrope & Coverflyx, they are my fav free sites just as good as any paid notes I've ever gotten. Though with Zoetrope you have to read 4 scripts first and you might get several feedbacks. I've had some success on Reddit screenwriting and met some good people there but that is a crapshoot. Talentville is another one where you can get good solid in-depth feedback from one person but it takes a while with so many scripts in the queue. For free solid feedback and you just want one Cvoerflyx might be your best bet for a pretty quick turnaround time or maybe someone here. I've found success here as well.

How long is it? I have some pilots if you want to swap feedback.

Pierre Langenegger

Hi Melissa, that's a good decision to wait for a couple more drafts before showing it to the decision-makers. Check out my profile page as I provide notes as well as proofreading and editing. PM me if you would like to discuss further or have any questions and I'll be happy to go into more detail with you.

Kelly Namey

Melissa, the working execs on stage 32 script consulting are terrific! They've helped me on 1 thru finals. Sight gives you info and guidance. Totally worth the money.

Doug Nelson

Melissa - a wise choice to not take it wide yet. My humble opinion: Finish the first draft, put in a drawer for a week or so while you let the story simmer in your brain a bit. Realize like everybody's first draft - it sucks. Then rewrite a second draft, fixing the real sucky parts, the typos, obvious plot holes and character flatness. Then & only then (if you're still enamored with the story); seek a little coverage with notes & critique.

Melissa Papel

These are all great comments! I will look into all these things and I love how helpful you all have been. Thank you so much!

Craig D Griffiths

I would say put it to one side and start writing another script.

Once you get some real miles between you and this draft you can go back. You will improved due the practice of writing the second script. Plus you will be seeing your work with fresh eyes.

Get all the obvious things out of the way. Don’t pay for advice on obvious mistakes.

You could try talentville. If you are willing to read a few for other people, you can also get notes on your own work. That is free, you are paying with effort not cash. This will also improve your skills.

If you have to pay someone. Make it worth the cash. Pay when you have exhausted all your own skill and knowledge.

CJ Walley

My advice is to think wider than the feedback mindset that many encourage. Very few people can give you clear direction and improve your writing from the ground up. Everyone has opinions but few have the talent and experience to give guidance. Writers that solicit feedback from wherever they can, especially early on, put themselves in real danger of going backward rather than forward while failing to improve their core skills.

This is actually a great time to start digesting craft advice. Put the script aside and read some of the better books. Here's some recommendations. As you realise new things about where good writing stems from, you'll be chomping at the bit to start redrafting while becoming a fundamentally better writer in the process.

John Ellis

Listen to these guys! My add would be to get ahold of some scripts and watch the films they were made from, analysing beats, dialogue, how the film is diff from the screenplay, and so on. Do this 10-20 times, then go back and start on the 2nd draft.

Dan Guardino

Most screenwriters make the same mistakes starting out. If you want to send to me I will give you my advise.

Randy Steinlauf

My experience is still limited, but I have found reading good scripts and good books about the craft before and then directly after the first draft to be immensely helpful. When I finished my first first draft, I was pretty pleased with the initial result. Then I read "Your Screenplay Sucks" and used it as a sort of checklist for things to correct in the second draft. I also realized that my screenplay, well, sucked. I also provided the first draft to a very limited number of friends and family. From the book and non-professional feedback, I was able to assemble a list of over 60 items (large and small) to change. The second draft was an order of magnitude better than the first draft. At this point, I solicited feedback on Blacklist. The notes I received were just OK, to be honest. I decided to get coverage through AFF as I wanted to submit to their contest as well if I felt the script was ready. The notes I received from them were phenomenal. 7.5 pages long, very detailed, very actionable, very honest. I ran with nearly all of it. The third draft is now in a place where I feel more than comfortable circulating it as a good example of what I am capable of writing. So, in conclusion, give it some more time, do a thorough second draft and then go get some professional feedback. My $0.02.

Jason Mirch

Hey Melissa Papel - if you have a first draft, the first thing I would recommend is getting Industry Reader Coverage - which gets your 3-5 pages of notes in 3 days! And the readers all have over 5 years of experience reading for A-list agencies, production companies, studios, and management companies. Many are working writers themselves.

You can find it here: https://www.stage32.com/scriptservices/coverage/buy?id=23

But before you book, email me directly at j.mirch@stage32.com I will see what I can do to help you out further!

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