There’s Always a Critic Who Hates Greatness

Browse through Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll always find a great movie that some critic hated. Then browse through low-scoring movies and you’ll often find one critic liked it. That tells you critics cannot be relied upon because they judge a movie based on subjective feelings rather than objective values.

“Paddington 2” and “Citizen Kane” recently lost their 100% Rotten Tomatoes score because one critic disliked the movies. “It’s a Wonderful Life” flopped initially at the box office along with “The Wizard of Oz.” That just goes to show that even the greatest movies won’t appeal to everyone.

When writing your own screenplay, keep in mind that you’ll never make everyone happy. In fact, trying to make everyone happy is a recipe for failure because you’ll often try to play it safe. The end result is a bland story that says nothing and challenges no one.

It’s far better to simply tell your story in your unique manner regardless of what other people may say. Everyone’s a critic, but unless multiple people flag the same problems with your screenplay, any criticism may not be valid.

The best criticism helps you improve your story. The worst criticism simply attacks your story without offering a solution. That’s the way movie critics work. They attack a story but rarely offer solutions of their own.

So go ahead and write the best screenplay you can, focusing on telling your story the best way you can. When people can read a screenplay and recognize it as coming from you, that’s when you’ll know you have delivered your distinctive style to the script. On the other hand, if your screenplay reads like everyone else’s screenplay, you’re probably being too bland and risk-aversive.

That’s when you need to trust yourself and work on letting your true voice shine through your words. Screenplays shouldn’t feel generic. They should feel special as if they could only come from you. When that happens, you’ll know you’ve at least captured your emotions on the page.

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