Contest Notes Review, Part II

And, we're back! Like I said, my review of contest feedback was running a little long when I sat down to write it so I decided to split it up into two different posts. If you haven't read the first part of the list, click HERE to check out that post where I review the feedback I received from contest entries with BlueCat, Finish Line, and Fresh Voices. In this entry, we're going to pick up with the Page International Screenwriting Awards, Script Pipeline, Stage 32, and WeScreenplay.

Feedback: Additional Cost

Combining the prestige, the prizes, and the pages of feedback the Page International Screenwriting Awards provide, I consider it to be the best contest on this list, dollar for dollar. The feedback is absolutely worth it. Not only does it ask two “general notes” questions similar to those of the BlueCat feedback, but it provides a detailed breakdown of your received score out of 100 possible points in the following grading categories:  (1) premise, (2) presentation, (3) structure, (4) plot, (5) pacing, (6) characters, (7) dialogue, (8) theme, (9) style, (10) tone, and (11) commercial potential. Phew! Similar to the Finish Line notes, Page feedback does reference page numbers to show specific examples, so have those flags ready. It does go further by providing a decision between Recommend, Consider, or Pass, along with an explanation of the reader's selection. Finally, there is a summary of suggested improvements. In total, I received seven pages of thorough, constructive criticism and was very glad to have paid the additional cost.

Feedback: Additional Cost

The feedback I received from Script Pipeline was by far the most disappointing and least helpful set of notes I have gotten back from any contest included in this list - and with the second highest price tag. Not only was there no discernable structure but what little advice it did contain was later contradicted. By the same reader. When you consider that the “discounted notes” ring up at an additional cost of $95.00 and the notes were only three pages, I effectively paid over $30.00 per page of notes I could chuck out the window for all the help they provided. This is especially cringey after my decidedly more positive experiences with Finish Line and Page that charge less for higher quality feedback.

Feedback: Additional Cost

I don’t have much to say about the notes from Stage 32 because, well, there wasn’t much said in the notes. The feedback is broken up into four parts: (1) first impressions/overall thoughts, (2) strengths, (3) weaknesses, and (4) budget range and commercial prospects. While some of these were also featured in the Page notes I mentioned earlier in this post, all the categories are addressed in little more than a paragraph. I also found it to be rather repetitive with no real direction.

Feedback: Additional Cost

Similar to Page, WeScreenplay feedback provides a graded average scorecard (this time out of 10) and then breaks it down but with fewer categories listed - or rather categories are combined which I know some people might not like because there is debate about whether terms like style and tone are one in the same or not but I don’t mind it. Particularly when the notes are still incredibly thorough, pointing out issues the reader had with clear examples albeit sans page numbers. I do think there were times when the readers can be direct to the point of being condescending. It’s important in those instances to read past that tone and pull out the gems of advice because we will all undoubtedly deal with curt individuals at every stage of our careers. Personally, I was not too put off by it and did opt for feedback more than once.

As I mentioned before, these reviews are based on my personal experiences with these contests and others may have a different opinion based on what it is they are looking for when receiving feedback or simply because they had a different reader providing the feedback that they received. Can you imagine if one person did ALL the notes for every single entry for a single contest. Sheesh. No matter which contest you enter and whether you decided to add notes or not, I wish you the very best with your entries!

Have you entered any of the contests mentioned? What was your experience with the feedback if you received any? Do you have any recommendations for contests I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!