So a good friend of mine asked me to read his script and give feedback quite awhile ago. I told him I'd be more than happy to since the first script I gave him notes on was EXCELLENT. The second script he gave me I kept putting off, not on purpose, but I've been so caught up in my studies that I just haven't found the time. Welp, I FINALLY found time and I sat down pretty enthusiastically expecting a masterpiece (his first script was, if you'll forgive the expression, a masterpiece and I'm not saying that because he was a friend. We actually just met a few years back so we haven't known each other as long, so it's not that, he's just an exceptionally good writer). BUT well I guess even good writers are hit and miss. This second script he gave me isn't bad but it's very difficult to get through.
The descriptions are long and beautiful BUT we should all know these don't fly so well in scripts as they do novels. Because it's so visual I'm having trouble following the story. There's just pages and pages of lengthy descriptions of war battles and islands and air ships and whatever, and I feel tempted to skim, no matter how beautiful his words are. But I feel I'd understand the movie more if I saw it because reading it is very very confusing. To make matters worse, there's hundreds and hundreds of characters with confusing names, making it extra difficult for me to keep track of. Without visual actors to put names to faces I can't really remember all the characters. The story is not told from one POV so I'm not sure who's story it is. One minute it's about two lovers from warring kingdoms, the next minute we're following a bounty hunter, and now I'm 70-something pages in of 20 or so pages of endless conversations between kings and queens and barons... and the script is just all over the place. It's here, it's there...rather than focusing on one character with various subplots, it's just all these people's stories, and I feel like I'm OBSERVING the action rather than being in the middle of it. I'm finding it hard to feel connected to the characters or whatever's happening, it's just pretty words on a page, but I feel no emotional investment at all.
I don't get it because I loved his last script. It was polished and focused and we were following one character in spite of subplots. The descriptions were long but not confusing. This script is just a mess. He entered it into a contest and apparently it was nominated for Best Screenplay but I can't understand how anyone can sit through it or even understand it. Maybe it's just me?
I just don't know what to tell him. I want to be honest but he is a friend so I can't tell him I don't like it. I really don't. Again, it's not a bad script but it's just SO boring and long and hard to follow. I've read a lot of complicated scripts, and understood them, but this one...I just don't know. I don't feel anything for it. It's taking me two days just to get through it and normally I can read a script in 2-3 hours. But I can't focus on this one. I do have 3 pages of notes on it so far, I didn't point out that I didn't like it, I just told him his descriptions are beautiful (they are) and that his only major flaw is too many characters. I want to point out more than that, but I feel bad if I do.
The problem with script doctoring a friend's script is that you don't want to be TOO honest. You might ruin a friendship even if it's constructive criticism. Sometimes people take it too hard even when you try to say it in the most polite way as possible. But when a friend's script really does need help, what do you say to them?
This is why I prefer to script doctor for people I don't know, or at least not very well or in real life. That way I can give a proper critique and point out grammar and story structure without feeling like I'm holding back because I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings. But when scripts really do need help, you just have to tell someone I guess. If you lie, they're not going to become better writers.
This script is well-written but it would be better if he cut down descriptions and focused on one character but right now it's just too confusing to follow and that's the only reason I don't like it. I'm sure if I understood what the story was, I'd like it. Siiiiiigh.