5 Ways To Get Feedback on Your Screenplay

If I had a dollar for every time a new screenwriter reached out to ask me for feedback on their work I wouldn’t have time to write this article I’d be too busy freestyling through the cash in my Scrooge McDuck swimming pool.

It’s common – and understandable – we all want to know how we’re getting on particularly when we’re starting out. And we want to know how we can make our work better.  I feel you, newbie.

So here are 5 ways to get feedback on your work.

Peer to Peer (Group)

This is usually a quid pro quo situation with a live writing group or an online writing group.  You do for them and they do for you. Check out Facebook or Meetup or industry organisations to find screenwriting groups in your area. And of course there are many online forums.

Pros – it’s free, fun and great for networking. People will most likely be encouraging and supportive.

Con – you’ll get a range of feedback so you’ll have to get practised at sorting the useful feedback from the irrelevant or unhelpful feedback. You can’t guarantee quality feedback and need to be prepared for clumsy feedback that feels personal even if it isn’t.  And if this is a group of friends there can be a tendency to be nice rather than critical. And it can be a little subjective.

Tip: Do yourself a favour and seek feedback from people who know something about whatever it is you do – someone who will give you honest feedback, not just a pat on the back or ill-informed criticism.

Peer to Peer (One to One)

Again, a quid pro quo situation with a regular writing buddy. This is great if you have a similar work ethic, writing goal and level of experience.  Set up a regular meeting and you’re good to go.

Pros – it’s free, convivial and you’ll develop a relationship with a trusted advisor.

Con – you’ll only be getting feedback from one source.  And you’ll need to choose carefully to get the right fit for you and your work.

Peer to Peer (Read Through)

Organise a bunch of chums to read your screenplay out loud.  Know some actors?  Even better. Then have a group discussion to get initial responses.

Pros – it’s free (aside from some catering) and you hear your script out loud. People will probably be supportive and encouraging.

Cons – unless everyone in the room is amazing at screenplay assessment you’ll invariably get somebody getting excited and going off track or trying to suggest what they would do rather than asking thoughtful questions.

Tip: Go equipped with specific questions you want answered and make it clear why you’ve organised the read through i.e. in order to hear what you have NOT get story suggestions.  Unless, of course, you DO want story suggestions.  Establish some ground rules up front and that way it doesn’t become a creativity fest that doesn’t help you improve your work.   

Tick the Feedback Box

Many screenwriting competitions and funding initiatives offer a basic feedback service to applicants/entrants.  Sometimes it’s part of the deal and it’s free, sometimes it’s for a small, additional fee.  Either way it’s worth it to get a basic, gut response to your work.

Pros – low cost and it will be objective, market feedback from strangers. And occasionally it might be quite comprehensive.

Cons – it’ll be one person’s viewpoint and invariably brief without a lot of specific detail. And you can’t go back with questions.

Use a Professional Script Assessor or Script Service

The time to use this option is when the script is the best version you can do.  You’ve probably had a friend or group read it for first impressions and you’ve rewritten it – probably more than once.  There are many script reader services in the world – so do some homework.  I’m always a little leery of very cheap reader services that are vague about who is actually giving the feedback. So look for testimonials and names – ask around – check out who they are and what they’ve done.

Pros – objective, professional analysis of your work from someone who reads a lot of scripts and quite often writes professionally too.  Clear, comprehensive criticism and advice on how you can improve your work.  They’re not there to make you feel good – they’re there to help your improve your craft.  And you should be able to go back to your pro with questions.

Cons – it will cost.  If you’re quite new and not used to receiving feedback – a professional assessment can be a little daunting.  By their nature a professional assessment will invariably tend towards criticism rather than praise.

Tip: Welcome negative feedback – it can be your friend. Generally, professional assessment or criticism is far more likely to focus more on the areas for improvement rather than listing all the ways you are brilliant. So here’s a crazy idea – even the most negative feedback can improve your project and craft. So how would it be if from now on you receive feedback from that perspective? You could calmly ask yourself this – how can this viewpoint, negative or positive, help me improve my work? It’s nice for the ego to be told your work is perfect but it’s also kinda pointless – you don’t develop and neither does your work

Advertising Guru, Paul Arden put it more succinctly than I ever could when he said “Do not seek praise, seek criticism.”      


©Kathryn Burnett 2021

Show Me A Perfect Writer & I’ll Show You A Unicorn


When I speak with writers about what’s getting in the way of them finishing their projects I tend to hear the following reasons:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of momentum

And then I hear … I’m worried that it’s not good enough – so I just keep fiddling with it.

Just so you know – the endless fiddling isn’t you improving your work, it’s fear thwarting your writing goal.   And you know I’m right…

Here’s the thing – if you’re waiting for your work to be perfect you’re going to be waiting for a very long time.   If you can’t share your work until it’s perfect you’re going to be waiting a very long time.  Sure, you’ll be safe from potential criticism and rejection but your work is never going to see the light of day.

And I don’t know many people who write for the audience in their bottom drawer.

So if perfectionism (aka cunningly desired fear) is getting in the way of your productive writing – here are some thoughts to consider.

  • Writing is a messy, imperfect process – so why do you expect your work to be perfect?
  • You’re going to get it wrong at some point – especially if you’re a new-ish writer. You’re going to get things wrong even if you’re not!
  • Getting critical feedback is invaluable to you as a writer and will help you improve your craft. You can’t get that if you don’t finish your work.
  • There’s no prize for being perfect.  Seriously – zero prizes!
  • Perfectionism is stopping you finishing because after you’ve finished the next step is invariably putting your work out into the world.  Never finishing means never having to show anyone your work = your work is NEVER seen.  And that’s sad.
  • Everybody wants their work to be amazing! Plenty of successful and talented writers struggle with getting their work bang on.  The difference is they don’t let that worry stop them finishing their project.  They finish, then they may go through the agonies of self-doubt and then they rewrite.
  • What’s worse?  Feelings of self-loathing because you never finish your story OR  someone (directly or indirectly) telling you your story needs more work?
  • What’s the worse thing that could happen if you get negative feedback?  And just so you know – everybody gets negative feedback at some point.  And getting it helps you build creative resilience.

Want some support to keep your project on track?  Check out my Writing Room page.

©Kathryn Burnett 2018 – For reprinting permission please get in touch via my contact page.






Finished Your Screenplay? 6 Things to Do Before You Send

Finally typed FADE OUT on the last page of your screenplay?  Nice work.

Now you’ll want to get it in front of people who you hope will be as excited about it as you are.  But no matter whether you’re sending it to a funding body, production company, competition or listing site – you want to give it the best possible shot, so consider doing these 6 things before you send it out into the world…

Continue reading Finished Your Screenplay? 6 Things to Do Before You Send