It’s Time to Play Everyone’s Favorite Game, BAD NOTE/GOOD NOTE!

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Creative Writing, Stories | 0 comments

It’s Time to Play Everyone’s Favorite Game, BAD NOTE/GOOD NOTE!

“And welcome to the show everybody. I’m your host, the handsome and impeccably dressed Grandpa Hank. You know the rules by now. I’m going to give you a typical note you’re likely to hear about your story or screenplay. Your job is to tell me if that note is worth a damn. Let’s meet our contestants. Marcy is a homemaker from Yumblestown, New Jersey. Tell us a little about the stories you write, Marcy.”

“I write mysteries about dead lumberjacks.”

“Wow, that sure is a niche. Next we have Brad, a homemaker from Stinkputter, Louisiana. How about you, Brad? What do you write?”

“Well, uh, it’s kinda hard to describe. They’re sort of these metaphysical, slapstick films about Uruguay. And like mugs sometimes. I write a lot about mugs.”

“Fantastic. And our third contestant, Pat is a homemaker from Dumptruckville, Oregon. Tell us a little about….”

“Graphic novels about a team of alligator repairmen.”

“Right on. Well, let’s get right into it. Round one, each correct answer is worth a cool $7.25. Hands on your buzzers. Your first note is….”

I DIDN’T LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER.

“Marcy, you buzzed in first!”

“Grandpa Hank, that’s a bad note.”

“Correct for $7.25. To double it, tell us why.”

“Because it’s a vague statement most likely based on personal preference and not on an actual flaw in the story.”

“Marcy, you’re in the lead with $14.50. Our second note is…..”

YOUR MAIN CHARACTER FELT A BIT INCONSISTENT, ESPECIALLY IN THE BOAT SCENE.

“Pat!”

“That’s a good note, Grandpa Hank.”

“You are $7.25 richer. And why?”

“Because it was specific. Someone noting that a character is inconsistent often means they gave your story more than a cursory glance. This gives you, the writer, the ability to go line by line, action by action through the boat scene to see what doesn’t quite gel with the character’s actions in the rest of the story.”

“And we have a tie at the top of the leader board. Marcy and Pat both with $14.50 and Brad sitting there like a nincompoop with nothing.”

“Hey, that’s a little harsh this early in the game.”

“Story notes are harsh, Brad. Buck up and deal with it. Your third note is…”

YOU SHOULD DITCH THE CAR CHASE SCENE AND INSTEAD HAVE THEM LIKE SITTING IN A CAFÉ WHEN THE BAD GUY SWINGS DOWN FROM A TREE AND LIKE THUNDERPUNCHES THE GROUND SO HARD THAT LIKE ALL THEIR COFFEE GOES ALL OVER THE PLACE. AND THEN THEY LIKE END UP IN THE SEWERS UNDER THE CITY AND IT’S ALL DARK AND DANGEROUS…

“Brad, thanks for buzzing in.”

“That’s a good, specific note.”

“Brad, you truly are a nincompoop. You’re at negative $7.25. The answer we were looking for is ‘that’s a terrible, god awful note.’ For Brad’s $7.25, Pat and Marcy, tell us why. Anyone… anyone… Marcy.”

“Because the note giver is telling you how THEY’D write your story. They’ve gone off on a completely unusable tangent. Not to mention that Hollywood has created this myth where you can just go traipsing around through the sewer systems of every major American city and that’s clearly not the case.”

“And Marcy with another $7.25.”

“Sewers are not that roomy.”

“Thank you, Marcy. No extra credit in round one. Note number four is…”

I REALLY THINK YOU MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A CONNECTION THERE BETWEEN WANDA AND HER FATHER.

“Pat.”

“That’s a damn good note.”

“That IS a damn good note. Pat, you’re tied with Marcy. To take the lead, tell us why.”

“Because it lets the writer know that their scene felt a bit incomplete and could’ve been much more powerful – all while giving the writer room to figure out for his or herself how to best accomplish it.”

“Pat, you’re in the lead! And our final note of round one is…”

AT THE END OF PAGE FORTY-SIX, I THINK YOU MEANT COMPUTER PARTS BUT IT SAYS COMPUTER FARTS.

“Brad.”

“That’s a bad note.”

“Brad, you really suck at this game. Clearly that’s a great note. Marcy and Pat, tell us… Marcy, you buzzed in first.”

“Because it’s an obvious typo that’s easy to overlook and the last thing you want is to send your manuscript out to an agent or producer when it contains something so ridiculous.”

“But what if you meant to say computer farts?”

“Computers can’t fart, Brad. What universe do you live in?”

“But what if you were writing a sci-fi picture about a society far in the future where computers could indeed fart like humans?”

“Well then you should’ve made it obvious enough in the script that your futuristic computers could fart like humans that the person giving the note wouldn’t think it was a typo. If your computers are farting all over the place and the reader didn’t notice until page forty-six, then it’s still a bad note.”

“I don’t know, but what if…”

“Let it go, Brad! And so at the end of round one, we have Marcy and Pat tied for the lead with $29 each and that knucklehead Brad way behind without a prayer in the world of catching up. He’s at minus $47,562.”

“Wait, how did I lose that much? Shouldn’t I only be at minus $14.50?”

“That’s a question a knucklehead would ask, Brad. It’s time for a break but when we come back, the always exciting ROUND TWO! Uh, sometime in the future when I get around to it and can’t think of a theme for the week. But now a word from our sponsors…”

We’ll buy your old gold jewelry!
No, WE’LL buy your old gold jewelry.
Don’t go to either of them, WE’LL buy your old gold jewelry. And some of your pants!

Just kidding, we don’t have any sponsors. Maybe I should work on that.

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