The Constructive Script Review

As the great Mickey Lee Bukowski once told me, “Sometimes you just gotta lay the smackdown.” However – ONLY the most thoughtless, banal, idiotic, indecipherable, hideously written DRIVEL put together under the pretense of a “screenplay” deserves a smackdown. You’ll know it when you see it.

Because we’re about mastering the craft, not sending it to an early grave.

I don’t know why, but the more challenging the review, the happier I am. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess. If you don’t enjoy punishing yourself, then I don’t know why you’d want to be a writer.

I can objectively review any script except my own. A writer needs friends who can give you good feedback.

By the way, if you’re just skimming scripts and writing short, thoughtless, generic reviews, then get off the bus. You’re hurting yourself and you’re wasting our time.

On receiving criticism – take it like a man. And if you’re a woman – take it like a man.

Get used to criticism. Execs, producers, directors, actors, and especially film critics can be even more brutal and quite often dumber.

Be of good cheer. You’re amongst friends and fellow laborers.

On receiving criticism – take it like a man.
And if you’re a woman – take it like a man.

Don’t be harsh. Almost everything about storytelling is debatable. There are almost always multiple solutions to any one problem, and your solution may not be the best one.

The only thing that’s truly black & white is format & grammar.

If you don’t give a flying flip about format & grammar, well, you’ve been warned.

Because a screenplay ought to look like a @#$%ing screenplay. And a writer ought to know how to @#$%ing write.

I know a handful of professional studio readers. Believe me when I tell you that sloppy specs and bad grammar really pisses them off. At least I’ll tell you when I’m pissed.

What Dave Trottier says about format is the law. And I’m the Chief of Police.

When you criticize someone over format, there’s no excuse for being wrong because you could easily look it up.

What Dave Trottier says about format is the law.
And I’m the Chief of Police.

Reviewers, beware: giants do, indeed, roam TriggerStreet. So far, I’ve encountered 2 people whom I would consider “brilliant” and 1 flat-out “genius.” No, I’m not kidding. You never saw my review for the “genius.”

And yet, geniuses don’t write masterpieces every single time.

Then again, you can’t underestimate the work of a genius just because you didn’t “get it” the first time you read it.

If you truly care about the people you know on this site, you WILL do freewill reviews for them and THANK THEM for the opportunity.

If you’re writing a review for a friend, you’re not doing that person any favors by not saying what’s wrong with the story. Just don’t be harsh about it.

The point of a review is not to condemn but to push the writer to greater heights of craftsmanship. Although some writers need a good shove.

Do you know what it really means to get your script sold and filmed and distributed to the masses? It means that your weaknesses as a writer will become public knowledge.

The point of a review is not to condemn but
to push the writer to greater heights of craftsmanship.

And if your friend sells a script that YOU reviewed and that script turned into a film and it bombed and got ripped apart by critics and audiences alike because of its glaring weaknesses in the story – that you did not point out – you failed your friend.

I read every script twice. You’d be surprised by how much more thought went into it then you first realized.

Half the battle in a review is proving the worth of your opinions. You have to prove that you really read the story, that you really know what you’re talking about, and therefore, the author should seriously consider your opinions.

Don’t forget to praise the writer. Don’t forget to encourage the writer.

The world looks at us and they think that we’re only as good as our last script. We know better. Success is a long-term devotion to the craft. We have to give our friends the breathing room to fail and never think less of them when it happens. And believe me, it happens to everyone.

Help them up when they’re down.

It’s better to share all of your thoughts in your review and be open about being wrong than to say nothing at all.


– Mystery Man

In his own words, Mystery Man was “famous yet anonymous, failed yet accomplished, brilliant yet semi-brilliant. A homebody jetsetting around the world. Brash and daring yet chilled with a twist.”

MM blogged for nearly 4 years and tweeted for only 4 months, then disappeared – mysteriously.

The Story Department continues to republish his best articles on Monday.

Here, you’ll also be informed about the release of his screenwriting book.

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