Except from Screenplay Competitions: Tools and Insights to Help You Choose the Best Screenwriting Contests for You and Your Script by Ann Marie Williams © 2019
There is a difference between a constructive critique and an unkind critique.
Just because someone points out problems in your script does not mean that he/she needs to be unkind. Critiques can be full of suggestions on ways to improve your script, but be done in a kind way that leaves you feeling empowered to reach the best version of your story. (It is my experience that many competition critiques do skew toward being supportive, even while pointing out the flaws in my script.)
At some point, however, it’s likely you’ll get a critique that’s unnecessarily harsh or just plain rude. Whether these are written by individuals who are bitter, burnt out, or just having an off day, it doesn’t change the fact that these critiques can be very hard to swallow.
However, even if someone is rude beyond belief, it does not mean that his/her suggestions are more or less valid.
The first time I received an unkind critique I was tempted to toss the entire critique aside. I didn’t want to admit that the critic could possibly have any worthwhile suggestions about my script. Then I realized that if I ignored the entire critique, I might miss something actually useful. Even though the suggestions were made in a snide way, that didn’t make them baseless. By ignoring the critique, the only person I was hurting was myself.
It’s understandable that when someone unkindly critiques a writer’s work, one might react with: “I’ll show them! I’ll prove them wrong!” But I have made a conscious decision to approach it differently. I tell myself that I am going to succeed, not to spite that person, but despite that person. And if that means recognizing a valid suggestion among the snarky comments, then so be it.
Bottom line, try not to take a critic’s poor attitude personally. Instead, comb through the critique to determine if any of the suggestions or insights will improve your script. Learning how to do this will not only help you improve your script, it should help you become a more professional writer.
Besides, an unkind critique can help you appreciate all the kind and supportive ones. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll need to write a snarky character and you can use that unkind critique for inspiration.
Screenplay Competitions has received endorsements from Dave Trottier (Author, The Screenwriter’s Bible, http://www.keepwriting.com), Richard Walter (former Screenwriting Area Head, Associate and Interim Dean UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television), Matt Dy (former Director of Script Competitions at Austin Film Festival), professor Harry M. Cheney (Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts), script editor Lucy V. Hay (www.bang2write.com) and Emmy-wining writer Ken Levine (Hollywood and Levine).