Kelly G.

How many screenplays have you read for BlueCat?

 Over 50.

 What is your job when providing feedback to a writer?

My most important job as a reader is to offer something a writer can never get on their own: another brain. As prepared as you may be, others’ interpretations of your work will almost always surprise you. I want to provide writers with an accurate account of what aspects of their screenplay did and didn’t work for me, from my unique perspective. I would encourage all writers to seek out all the feedback they can.

What is your attitude toward a screenplay before you start reading?

I try to be ready for anything. Writers, both professional and untrained, have an incredible capacity to tell unique stories. It’s actually really fun to know nothing about where they’re taking you before page 1. In a world where it’s impossible to avoid details about a piece of fiction before you see experience it, an unadulterated read is refreshing.

How do you stay focused when reading a script you don’t find interesting?

Distraction can be a problem under any circumstances. Regardless of the content of the script, I’m a constant note-taker. I ask the writer questions, make observations and note plot and characters connections in my own notebook at all times. Not only is this helpful in writing my analysis, but it also is great for staying focused.

What are three common problems that keep coming up when reading for BlueCat?

1. Writers have a (completely understandable) tendency to be too easy on their protagonist. I find that first acts usually lack a really strong push for the start of the protagonists’ arc. More often than not, the inciting incident needs more of a push that does not allow the central character(s) to turn back from that point.

2. Screenplays benefit from an economy of description. While much of the action/description that I read is well-constructed, often the writing drifts too far into long-form prose territory. In the case of screenplays, brevity is the soul of wit.

3. A lack of naturalistic dialogue is also a common problem. Fortunately, this has a simple solution: read your dialogue aloud. What looks correct on paper may lack the vivaciousness and life you want to give to your characters.

How do you handle being critical without being mean?

I always frame my criticism with the intent of improvement. Instead of focusing on why an aspect of the writing doesn’t work, I try to suggest another option. Handing over your hard work to others is never easy, and being mean doesn’t benefit anyone.

How do you avoid unwarranted praise? 

A writer’s work is never finished. Even if a screenplay shows many great elements, I find that asking hypothetical questions of the writer helps them to think outside the box to improve even further. I do believe that if your screenplay isn’t broken, don’t fix it. However, contemplating all ramifications of your choices as a writer will never hurt, and I try to get writers thinking based on my own interpretation of the script instead of simply lavishing praise.

Do you have any pet peeves? 

Although it can and has been done with great success, I’ve grown tired of reading screenwriters writing about screenwriters. Of course, I try not to write any script off for this kind of reason, but the writer protagonist has become too much of a cliche for me. 

Also, unfortunately, I still come across the occasional script that features a female protagonist whose only goal is finding a man. I find this story to be trite, reductive, and counter-productive to the under-represented category of female characters.

What is the heart of a successful screenplay?

Conflict! As hard as it may be to put the characters you lovingly constructed through their worst nightmares, it is the essential backbone of storytelling.

What do you believe is the hardest part of the job of the screenwriter?

I think all writing comes down to getting words on the page. I know some writers that hate to re-write, but others love it. The universal problem seems to be the initial push. Articulating your ideas from nothing in any structured manner is like staring at an insurmountable monolith right in front of you. Once you scale the monolith, the remaining obstacles seem small. 

What advice would you like to offer a screenwriter before they enter BlueCat?

I would suggest proofreading and reading aloud several more times than you think you need to. Also, be ready and open for feedback! 

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