I looked through your archive and saw that you suggested bad scripts serve a purpose, and after a year of being a reader, I can see why they’re helpful. At the same time, they’re killing me. I feel emotional destruction every time I read another page of these godawful things.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the worst of these didn’t come from my screenwriting class, where I have to critique other’s screenplays. I’m trying so hard to be nice and also give suggestions but it gets harder each time I read the same, unchanged terrible screenplay week after week. How can I emotionally remove myself from the situation? Because it seems too personal right now.
The reader’s job is frustrating: You’re forced to finish and summarize nearly-unreadable scripts. But at least there’s the veneer of anonymity, since you likely don’t know the writer, and they have no idea you’re writing coverage on their crapterpiece.
In a class situation or writing group, all of that anonymity is stripped away. So you need to find a way to offer constructive criticism while defending your belief in what good writing is. Here are a few suggestions:
Ask questions. Rather than saying, “This character’s choices make no sense,” ask the writer why the character is doing this specific thing at this specific point.
Focus on points of confusion. Be clear and direct, especially if the script isn’t.
Use analogies. It can be painful to talk about terrible writing, so talk about good movies that do the kinds of things you’re talking about.
Quit the class. At a certain point, if all you’re getting out of the class is negative energy, stop going.