Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Character Would Never Write That

I hate just linking somewhere, but I have a headache and some pressing matters to attend to...still, this Ken Levine post on actors giving notes to writers was too good to not recognize.

So it’s just a matter of communicating your concerns in a way that will make us receptive to you and here’s the key – WANT to make those changes.

Quite simply, it’s all about showing us respect.

When we come down to the stage don’t glare at us like we killed your puppy. If the script doesn’t work it, we didn’t do it on purpose. Try to remain positive. Give us the impression that you’re not overly concerned, that you have every faith that we can fix it. Is that hard to do sometime? Yes, of course. But you’re ACTORS. Act!

One trick is to start by praising something. You love “this” but just have some issues with “that”. We know you’re bullshitting We do the same thing when giving notes to other writers. But we appreciate the gesture.

If you want us to shut you off completely just say, “My character would never say that!” Whether it would or not, you say those words and we hate you.

We didn't do it on purpose...seriously. Read all of Ken's great advice HERE.

The best thing about the post is that it applies to execs giving notes to writers, producers giving notes to writers, directors giving notes to writers, writers giving notes to writers...hell, pretty much anyone giving anyone notes on anything. I've worked for or with great note givers, and for or with lousy screaming 'It just sucks' or 'My character wouldn't say that' note givers. The former are a pleasure and a privilege...the latter are teeth-gritting get-ones-back-up flinch-inducers, and great restraint must be used.

Try to be the former.


Cunningham said...

What I like to say is -

"Where did this line/scene come from in the character's head space?Is it necessary?"

Because if the writer can explain it then we're halfway there to making it better. If they can't then it's over and the line/scene gets rewritten anyway.

I had a story editor do that for several of my scripts and I put it in my toolkit when working with others. (With designers you have to ask "What's the story with this picture? What are you trying to tell me?"

Elize Morgan said...

Taking notes is also one of the hardest things to do as a writer, so thank you for the post (and the link!) Will.