You’ve received some feedback. The best scenario is that the feedback is useful, helpful, and practical. It inspires you to get to work right away. The sky opens, the hallelujah chorus plays and you know exactly how to move forward.
This does not always happen.
In fact it rarely happens. For many writers, the reaction when they get feedback is What do I do with this? What do I do now?
Avoid this by creating your own feedback sheet.
Don’t hand your play off to a respondent with a Tell me what you think! Give your respondent direction. Give your respondent context. Give your respondent a specific job as they read your play. Not only is this going to make it easier on your respondent (most times if a respondent fails to give feedback or gives crappy feedback it’s because they have no idea where to start), it’s going to give you a clear picture of what’s working, what’s not and where you need to put your focus during rewrites.
The Feedback form is divided into two parts.
1. Answer this question: Where are you with this draft?
Is this a first draft? Have you been working on it for a month or a year? Are you happy with what you’ve written? Are you frustrated? What do you want to accomplish with this play? Let your respondent know exactly where you are with the draft.
Eg: This is my second draft of “The Waiting Room.” I’ve been working on it for three months. I really love my beginning but struggle a lot with the end. I want this play to really hit the audience. I want them to be dazed when they leave the theatre.
2. Give the respondent a job.
Instead of asking “What do you think?” give a specific job to your respondent. Give them ONE thing to accomplish as they read your play. Ask them – “Do you think the ending is satisfying, why or why not?” Ask them – “Is the main character is loveable or hard to connect to?” Ask them - “Did you get the plot twist?” Come up with ONE thing you want your respondent to answer.
In Part two you’re going to avoid asking for likes and dislikes. These are opinions and they’re subjective. Just become someone “likes” your work doesn’t mean it can’t be improved and just becomes someone “dislikes” your work doesn’t mean it has value. Instead ask your respondent for Impressions and Questions.
1. Impressions are important because they tell you what stays with the reader. And what stays with the reader is what is going to stay with an audience. It could be a moment, an image, a character, a tone, a line of dialogue. What resonates? Ask your respondent for 2 to 3 Impressions.
2. Questions are important because they give you something to answer. They give you a task to accomplish right away. That means you’re not sitting staring at your feedback wondering where to start. You have forward motion. Ask your respondent for 3 questions.
When you give a draft to someone for feedback include your version of this Feedback sheet. By doing so you’ll up your chances of getting that useful, helpful and practical feedback that will move your work forward.