|Note: When I can't find an appropriate picture I post Natalie Wood photos|
Giving it to friends and family rarely yields objective reactions. Of course they’re going to love it. They want to love it. (Or hate it depending your family).
And the truth is most people not in the business don’t know how to read a script (as opposed to those IN the business where only half don’t know how to read a script). It’s difficult for many people to read stage directions and dialogue and be able to picture the scene. That’s not a knock on anybody. I can’t read a blueprint or a shopping list.
This is why I always recommend young writers take classes and meet other aspiring writers. Surround yourself with peers. There will usually be one or two whose opinions you value. Give the script to them. Be mindful that there may be some jealousy or competitive dynamics at work but you can generally sift through that.
Teachers are another good source of feedback if you value their assessment.
Generally, it’s best to give you script to several readers. There is a downside to this of course. You may get five different reactions from five different people – and some of the notes might be contradictory. Just like you'll get when you do make it in the business. You have to decide who (if anybody) is right.
But the good news is if you hear the same note from four sources it’s a pretty good bet they’re right. You can address all these issues before sending out your script.
There’s no clear-cut formula on how to know whether a note is a good one or bad. And especially, with people not in the business (dreaded “non pros”), their notes might be bad because they’re not adept at solving script problems, but you as the creator have to see beyond that. Don’t just dismiss the notes. Something bothers them and they don’t have the experience to identify just what it is. That’s your job. Based on their note, try to work backwards and guess what exactly might be the problem.
Always consider seriously the note, “I don’t get this.” You may think you’ve explained something sufficiently but you haven’t. We often get too close to our work. Those are generally helpful notes.
The very best way to judge your script is to arrange for a table reading. HEAR IT. Taking into consideration that the actors you use will often times be busboys at Costco and a foreign exchange student from Norway – not exactly Meryl Streep and Christian Bale, and the small audience will be somewhat biased in your favor (don't invite your family if they're not) – but you can hear the rhythm, hear the flow, get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. And if you have a comedy, laughter (or lack of it) will tell you what’s funny.
At the end of the day though, it’s up to you. YOU have to decide whether your script is good. Just remember, Universal passed on STAR WARS.
Best of luck!