Contest Notes Review, Part I

Other people need to read your work in order for you to improve. You know this. But maybe you’re nervous to share your writing with someone you know personally (I’ve definitely been there) because you don't think they'll support your creative endeavors or maybe you’re nervous that someone you know personally won’t be completely honest about what they think of your writing because they love you so much. It’s not a bad thing that they love you, it’s just not exactly helpful if you’re trying to grow. You know what is?

Script notes.

Having submitted to several contests in the past, I’d like to share my feedback experiences with you so you can decide whether or not you’d like to add notes to your entry. Keep in mind what’s to follow are my personal opinions (this post is not sponsored by any of the contests mentioned) and someone else may very well have had a different experience with the same contest. Because of that, I encourage you to read other reviews if you’re on the fence. Let's get started. Alphabetically. Because that's fair. 

Feedback: Free

Now, the entry deadlines for the BlueCat Screenplay competition have passes but I want to recommend you add it to your list of contests to enter next year because not only is it listed among the top ones to enter by multiple sites including Good In a Room and Script Reader Pro, but the cost of entry also includes feedback for every submission. So, why not? The feedback is pretty simple with the reader answering two questions: What did you like about the script? And, what do you think needs work?  The answer to the second question does come with suggestions on how to achieve the recommended improvements to use at your discretion. To be completely honest, I had totally forgotten BlueCat provided feedback to all entrants and was pleasantly surprised when I got an email with the notes. 

Feedback: Additional Cost

For the purpose of full-disclosure, I want to inform you that The Finish Line Script Competition did reach out to me on social media last year with a discount code to enter their contest with feedback but I was impressed enough with the quality of that feedback to enter again this year and pay full price for notes on a different project. On the contest website and on their social media, it is made clear that the goal is not only to provide the winning writers with prizes but that all entrants have the opportunity to learn what they need to do in order to be in the winners’ circle in future. The feedback starts with general comments, and in the case of my pilot submission, a long list of what does or does not need work by act with page numbers referenced. If you’d like to do what I did, you could easily mark those pages with post-it flags as you go along. Something I particularly appreciated was that the reader asked me questions. This helped to highlight the areas where I could paint a more vivid picture of the characters and their world immediately or later down the road on the page, not just in my head. 

Feedback: Free

Fresh Voices is another contest that provides feedback to all entrants included at no additional cost so long as the projects are submitted by the regular deadline. The notes are fairly brief with a few recommendations but an A through D scorecard is also included which can draw your attention to the areas of greatest concern immediately plus a score out of 10. Considering that the notes will not increase the cost of your entry, if you submit through sites like FilmFreeway, add the notes to your entry. It can only help you develop your writing. 

In my next post, I'll cover my experience with feedback from four more contests: the Page International Screenwriting Awards, Script Pipeline, Stage 32, and WeScreenplay. But until then, have you entered any of the contests mentioned in this post? How would you rate the notes you received? Tell me in the comments!