I receive Dave Farland's (aka Dave Wolverton) Daily Kick in the Pants for writers over e-mail. He's a savvy businessman, and knows more about the field of writing and Hollywood than any other person I know. He's tried almost everything. So when he gives advise I tend to listen. Well, as much as I listen to anyone that is.
So this morning I opened the latest Daily Kick and found this:
David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Your Work as a Fire Hydrant
Last week I was talking with a phenomenal screenwriter, and he said something that I should warn new authors about. He said, “You know, every time I write a screenplay and take it out, the producers and directors will always get to the very best scenes, and they’ll try to figure out some way to ‘make it better,’ to add their own little twist to it. Why do you think it is that they can’t resist that impulse?”
I know the answer. It’s said that in Hollywood, “A great screenplay attracts producers and directors the way that a fire hydrant attracts dogs: everyone wants to leave his mark on it.”
First off, that makes me laugh! And the cruel, ironic truth behind the humor makes it even more funny.
He goes on to mention that people in your writer's group can do the same thing.
I've had this happen.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it when I get to talk about my work (er, writing) with fellow authors, and I revel in constructive criticism. Most of the time anyway. I've even gleaned a few awesome ideas from people in my writing group. That's what we're there for, right?
However, when someone tries to insert their voice, their ideas or their ideals into your story you need to let them know they're out of line. Be nice (no fighting kids) but don't hesitate to make sure they know that they've gone over the line. Most people will realize their mistake and admit that they got carried away. I've been on both ends of this, and I appreciated it when someone called me (nicely) on it.
Your story is your story. Consider other people's comments, digest them for a while, and then decide what to do with them. Not every change that every person suggests needs to be (or ought to be) implemented. I learned this the hard way.
Knowing me, I'll probably have to learn it again. And again, and again, and again . . .
If you want to get Dave Farland's (mostly) Daily Kicks, go to his website and subscribe. The link is about half way down the page on the left.