How NOT to give notes

I’m sitting here in the kitchen, reading this and laughing. And crying a little too.

If you’ve ever had to comment on someone’s screenplay, novel, or report, or hell, if you’ve ever had to give some feedback to anyone about their job, you should read this.

Really. Read this. Let’s make our world a place where we all give better notes.

How NOT to give notes, by Ken Levine (IMDB)

Part 1
Part 2

By Martine

Screenwriter / scénariste-conceptrice


  1. Heeeee…

    Well, being on the note giving end on a daily basis at work (doing all product approvals for partners), I’m happy to say, I follow the rules! Nothing annoys me more than unspecific comments, and really, you don’t get where you want to go when you’re not specific.

    My own pet peeve is hearing a comment that starts with or is just plain ‘I don’t like it’. Well, I don’t care if you personally like or don’t like it. Why or why not is it a good design / does it address the client needs / etc.?

    And sometimes it is really, really hard to find something nice to say. ;) But that’s pretty rare. And it’s usually a case of something being proposed carelessly (not the result of hours of work).

    Maybe I could conduct a course for movie execs & script reviewers ;).

  2. Oh yeah, and I’m so glad I don’t write comedies. Nothing kills a joke (or a piece of art for that matter) more than being ‘designed/written by committee’.

  3. @the milliner: it’s good to hear from someone on the other side of the table and from another business! It’s hard, giving comments. And writing is so strongly linked to our sense of self (at least for writers). Being on the receiving end has made me A LOT more aware of the comments I give to people… and the amount of comments! Less if often more. ;)

  4. One time I got this answer from a producer : « I’m insulted by the end of this story… It’s obvious that the thing is the killer… » and then I had to answer « Well since the title of the story is « The silent killer » I wouldn’t argue that he’s not… By the way did you notice that the main character might not have died at the end… »

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