Posted by: steveonfilm | March 28, 2011

Cyberspace Open: Feedback

Well, I did MUCH worse than last year (low 80s as opposed to mid 90s). I can’t say I disagree with the feedback. I took more of a chance with my entry this year, and I never felt like I nailed it as much as I’d hoped.

Here’s what teh judge had to say:

“Good visuals here, some sharp action. Enjoyed the interplay between the characters, though the setup feels a little familiar (a lot of zombie stuff these days) and the writing style is a little dense. A leaner style resonates more and fits with the current Hollywood paradigm. Dialogue had some good beats but could have used a more subtextual approach. Still, some good moments here and kudos for writing visually.”

It’s 5 pages of an idea that I had to come up with over 3 days. I think that accounts for a lot of the denseness. But otherwise, I’m not too hung up on it. The judge brings up valid points, and again I think a lot of my misses are because I was writing something out of my element. But if I took one thing away from this little contest is that my subtext in dialog needs work.

Until next time, keep writing.


  1. Here’s my score and the judges comments.

    21 21 23 22 87

    This scene has plenty of energy to it, though as it goes forward, it slows down a bit, simply because it feels like beats are being repeated a little. The dialogue has a good ring to it but could use a little more zing and the characters could use some unique, maybe even quirky, traits.

    I’ve heard the term beats used, but don’t really know what it technically means.

    Again, not depressed or discouraged. Don’t know enough to agree or disagree 🙂

    • “Beats” is one of those terms that seems to mean something different to everyone in the business. I think what the judge was trying to say is that your pacing was the same throughout and perhaps that made the read a little tedious? Hard to say.

  2. Missed the 2nd round this year. Wasn’t my favorite scene I’ve written. I liked both from last year quite a bit better so I wasn’t too surprised that I didn’t make the Round 2 cut.

    Scores & Feedback:

    24 22 23 23 (92)

    This is a fun scene with a lot going for it. The set-up works well in that we believe this couple is out for a three-way (or swing adventure), and the twist in the end is unpredictable and funny. Dialogue is good but gets a tad talky and pacing could probably be quickened just a little. Despite a possible negative factor of sheer believablity, this is a unique take on the prompt and a solid display of writing talent.

  3. Once again, I managed to snag a reader who didn’t know how to read, resulting in hair-tearing feedback as they were so busy missing the point that they probably forgot to DVR the Two-and-a-Half Men marathon that was on.
    24 22 21 22 (89)

    “There is some interesting use of subtext, and this is a great subject for these types of characters to address. However, this is more of a one-sided conversation that might work better with a less ambiguous conclusion and more obvious conflict. It all comes off very causal, and there is nothing at stake so the conflict is minimal.”
    I defy anyone with a working knowledge of the English language to read my scene – – and tell me that it was ambiguous or needed more obvious conflict.

    My greatest fear was that unless I hammered all the subtext with underlines and italics and a Post-It note explaining everything, it’d get missed by the sub-literate wannabes making a few bucks reading these. My greatest mistake was assuming qualified people would judge this charade. My bad. Dumb me.

  4. Wow, Steve. I have to say that I expected your scene to score much higher. The score doesn’t even seem to match with the number of positive things mentioned in the critique. I think your judge was unusually tough. I guess zombies are to movies what vampires are to teen novels. (i.e. Enough already!)

    Last year I had a 93 and just scraped into the top 100. (So the cutoff is actually the same this year as it was last year). This year I ended up with a 90, so at least I’m fairly consistent. 🙂 Ah well, back to my novel writing.

    • All these things are subjective. Another judge could have scored it higher, or lower. That’s just the way things work. I’m not torn up over it. All you can do is give if your all and hope for the best. After all, it’s just 5 pages.

  5. Since you have your scores and all, I have a question because I can’t seem to find the information anywhere else– where did you get your feedback and the numbers? There seems to be no link on the official CS Open page and no one emailed me anything? Do you know where I can look?

  6. I entered too. I didn’t make it to round 2. This link has the Judges’ comments on ALL of the 1st round entries:

    I just wish they would post the entries themselves, because comparing the entries to the comments could give insight into what they are looking for for next time.

    I tried to attach my entry to this post, but didn’t know how (would it be possible?)

    • While I’m sure some people would like it if they posted the entries themselves, I’m sure just as many people — if not more — don’t want their writing up for everyone in the world to download and see.

      Sorry to head you didn’t make it to the second around. Don’t feel bad, it was a tough prompt. I scored in the top 20 of round one finalists last year and didn’t make the cut this year.

      I don’t think there’s a way to upload a file in the comments section.

  7. I’m sure lots of people would mind if their entries were posted with their names attached. But, it could be done without Identifying the entrant. Interested readers could then match up the corresponding Order Numbers between entries and Judges’ feedback. IMO, this could provide valuable insight.

    • I’m sure it could be done, but there is a trade off… how much trouble is a 10-15 dollar contest entry worth? I mean, I got my scores and a few lines of feedback and I feel for the cost of entry that was more than sufficient. If they could post the top entries, that’d be great, but I just don’t think there’s a whole lot more they need to do. But that’s just my opinion…

  8. If they would post the top entries, it would be better than nothing. But, I don’t know that it would cost them much to post them all. I am not looking at this as a tool for improving future entries in this particular contest, but to possibly improve my writing in general.

    • It wouldn’t cost them much. Bandwidth is cheap. The cost associated with people downloading the entries is minimal. I know what you’re talking about though. Have you looked into It’s a free community driven website for screenwriters. You can upload a script that gets randomly assigned out for “peer review” each time you review three scripts yourself. The forums there are a lot of help too. If you’re just looking for ways to improve your writing, I think there are far better (and free) options available out there.

  9. Hey Steve, I have tried TriggerStreet! Thanks for the suggestion. Happy Easter.

    • You too… though I celebrated this Easter with the Jewish side of the family. As odd as that was. We did Thai… and MAN, it was delicious!

  10. Awe, I LOVE Thai. Nam Sod, and twice fried Wantons rock!

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