Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Week 7 of Zachary Rowell’s 90-Day Screenplay Challenge: How to Take Good and Bad Feedback and Use it to Write the Best Screenplay Possible

Well, writers, we’ve reached the halfway point in screenwriter Zachary Rowell’s 90-day screenplay challenge. He has just a month and a half left to complete a feature-length script, or risk forfeiting a month of paid bills! When he won SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes, we made a deal: we’ll pay his bills for three months, but he must use those three months to write a complete screenplay.

Zachary admits that time is flying by. And now comes the hard part. He’s sharing snippets of his script with YOU for feedback and honing his pages. This past week, we shared his first ten pages publicly on Instagram, and the feedback was mixed. But Zachary is taking it all in stride, as he explains in his latest vlog entry.

You can read the first ten pages of his holiday screenplay by clicking here. And don’t forget to join the SoCreate Facebook Groupsubscribe to our YouTube Channel, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter for all of Zachary’s latest updates on progress.

“Hello, and we’re back for another weekly vlog. It’s the middle of November. Time is flying by. In like a month and two weeks, this whole journey will be over, and I’ll be sharing the script with anybody who wants to read it. Yeah, it’s going by really fast. Thanksgiving is next week. It’s crazy. So yeah, this week, what are we talking about this week?

Well, I was asked by Courtney, a comment to show everyone what it’s like to toss around ideas with another person, or what the feedback process looks like, and what I needed help with on this script. So, I wrote some notes on my computer.

So there was one thing that I was really struggling on in the script that I needed to kind of nail down. I hate being so vague but I have to be because it’s very important later in the script, and will spoil a lot of things if I give too much away. But basically, there’s this item that comes up in the script. And it turns out to be this big, important piece. And it needed to be somewhat unique so that if you saw someone with it, you would associate it with them. You’d be like, oh I saw so and so with that same thing. But not too unique to where more than one person couldn’t have it if that makes sense. And I was trying to think of what? I couldn’t think of something to put in that little box. So, I talked it out with my girlfriend. We bounced ideas off each other, and eventually the perfect item came to mind. And it’s like that a lot of times, just having a conversation about what it is that’s troubling you, or what you’re stuck on. Sometimes you can get lost in your own thoughts, and the only way to talk through it is actually speaking it out, and bouncing it off someone else, and like hearing your own thoughts come to life, if that doesn’t sound too strange, and hearing how other people react to those ideas and thoughts, it unlocks a lot for you if you get stuck.

You know, also sharing with people, as I get comfortable in this wooden chair that we got for free off the street. The table was also for free. Our stools that we have, they’re for free. Almost everything in this apartment is free. Olive, she was free, we found her on the streets. My girlfriend found her on the street, so, yeah, lots of free things.

Anyway, back to the script. So, there’s going to be a time when you’re going to need feedback on your script. It might be scary to release it out into the world and hear what others have to say, but two minds are always better than one. Part of becoming a better screenwriter is knowing what advice, criticism to take, and what not to take. You’ve got to be selective with it. Like I said, at some point, you’re going to need feedback, and you don’t want to react, you don’t want to be defensive, you don’t want to just automatically disagree with all the notes you get. You don’t want to be that person. So, even if you think a note is silly, or it’s not productive, you’re still appreciative. Show your appreciation. Someone took the time to read a 100-page screenplay that you wrote. You want to make sure that you thank them for their time, and you know, just don’t be a d******ag about it, even if you disagree. For the most part, people are just trying to be helpful. Sometimes it might come across the wrong way, or sometimes they may not get your script, maybe it’s just not for them. Everything is subjective, which is why you need to have multiple eyes on it, multiple minds looking at it and reviewing it. Even some of the most beloved films in history, there are people who hate whatever that film may be.

So, don’t let one negative reaction get you too down. But at the same time, don’t let one positive review get you too high. I think you need a sort of balance with it.

So, yeah. I hope some of that made sense. I feel like I got off track there for a minute. I think that is about it for this week.

Actually, that is not it. I did decide on a title. I think, at this point, it’s going to be “Still Water Runs Deep.” On the Facebook Group Page, the most people voted for “Secret Santa,” and then there were a few people for “Still Water Runs Deep.” I like that one the best. It takes place in Still Water, Oklahoma. It feels good to me, it looks good, and I’m going with it right now. So, thank you all for your help with that. And thank you for the notes and words of encouragement for the ten pages that were shared on Instagram. I liked hearing from you all, and I’ll see you next week!”

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