When you finish a first draft, how many close friends or confidants, do you show it to? Do their comments change the script much?
At this point, the only person who reads absolutely everything is my assistant Dana, not only for her opinion but also her much-needed proof-reading skills. I think every writer needs a Dana – be it a friend, a parent, a colleague or professor – to be a trusted set of eyes, and hopefully give unbiased feedback.
Many screenwriters have a circle of other writer friends with which they share their work, either in person during a weekly writing group, or on-line. Walter Bernstein, who at 83 has written more than 27 movies, uses the emailing-with-notes function of Final Draft to swap scripts with his colleagues. It’s a great idea.
The extent to which you end up changing your script depends entirely on how much you believe in the notes. Obviously, never make a change you disagree with, unless some other factor makes it obligatory.