Angelo Bell: How Well Have You Conveyed Your Message?

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by Angelo Bell

Screenplay critiques should measure how well the writer has conveyed his/her message. Critiques are not only about what’s there, it’s about what was required to tell your storycompletely.  Often a critique will be about what’s not there. A thriller should be judged and critiqued as a thriller, not a misplaced coming-of-age film. If the genre isn’t clear it’s because the writer’s message is missing some important elements, not that it’s in the wrong genre. I’ve read many critiques where experts express disappointment that a writer has chosen the wrong genre. I think they are missing the mark. It’s the delivery that should be criticized.

I want to share this excerpt from a recent critique on my script, Legend of Black Lotus. I’m always tentative when I share my work because you wonder if anyone will truly get it. Often,getting it is the truest sign of how well (or poorly) you – as the writer – have conveyed your message. I think it’s important to note that my script is a martial arts fantasy, and not the reviewer’s favorite genre.

“I was sucked into the story and often thought about the characters when I was away from the script. While [fantasy] isn’t my favorite genre, I would totally pay for and watch this movie. The characters are very rich and the story, while complex, flows nicely. You have several nice twists as well to keep the viewers on their toes. While we know Daiyu will be victorious in the end, the method in which she does it stays true to the genre while still being fresh for today’s audience.”

“…The latter half of this script is really tight. There is a huge chunk of pages where I was fully wrapped up into the story and I saw no mistakes or had any ideas on how to improve it. [One] can tell you have polished it as it reads really well. Thank you for letting me read it.”

“…Instead of gushing about each character individually, let me start off by saying, up to this point I have not read a script with such rich characters. Each character has their own strong voice, and it was very easy for me to visualize each and every one of them with one exception. They had their own personalities and I felt like I knew them all from birth. It was easy to get quickly attached to them.”

I can take critiques like this all day.