Last night, my screenwriting class workshopped my latest seventeen pages, a sort of Act II, Part One. I received plenty of notes, but not nearly as many positive notes as I wanted or thought would come my way. In fact, I admit my pages weren’t particularly well-received.
Which is a nice way of saying I bombed.
Much of what made the first act work for my classmates was how action and dialogue worked in-tandem. Picture Action, cool and confident, in the driver’s seat of the Scriptmobile. Next to him is his partner, Dialogue, smart and able, assisting Action with navigation directions. The pair work in perfect unison as a team, as partners. In these new pages, however, Dialogue has throatpunched Action and thrown him in the backseat. Dialogue has slid into the driver’s seat of the Scriptmobile and hit the gas, spewing as much vocabulary across the road of paper as it can, all the while laughing at the incapacitated Action. The new pages are dialogue-heavy, action-light, and have lost what made the first pages my class workshopped so enjoyable to read.
This leaves me with two choices:
1. Despise my classmates, loathe the workshop, and keep my golden pages because I put a lot of work into them and if I put in a solid amount of work they must be good, so what do they know?!
2. Embrace the challenge of rewrite, give these peer thoughts proper attention, make a plan of action and fix what needs fixing, all the while pursuing new work.
If I’m not taking the second choice, I have no business being in a writing workshop, giving anyone notes on their writing, or writing at all. I’m learning to write for an audience. I’m learning to create good story. I’m learning to improve. Part of the learning process is understanding when something needs more work, and I’m on board with that concept. For me, these pages didn’t fail if they taught me a lesson (my class is 100% right, by the way), and I’m embracing the challenge I’ve created for myself.