In this my maiden train of thought, I thought I'd have a chat about the dark art of feeding back. The screenwriting world is a murky, opaque realm of boardroom gurus and paranoid executives, all of whom are experts in the art of what's not right. Try to get them to clarify that standpoint, however, and you might as well ask them to turn lead into a pomegranate.
The truth is, these self-appointed creative gatekeepers often have no idea how to man their stations. They do,  however, have a natural ability to question everything.
In my experience, this negative superpower appears to stem from the film industry's innate gift for nay-saying.  I might add some stats here about the kind of numbers of projects which never see the light of day, but to be honest I don't think anyone will have any doubts about how hard it is to actually get things done in this crazy field. 
Where am I going with all this? Good question and you're right to ask.  The reason for this blog is nothing short of saving your sanity.
"it's not there yet... " this is my particular favourite when it comes to pointless feedback. Let's break it down to see if we can actually discern what our editor/producer/director/whatever is trying to tell us. 
It, we must assume, means the screenplay and 'there' can only be the happy dance at the end of the rainbow where everyone signed off and the bank transfer is in the cloud.  So decoding the rest of the statement... What are they actually telling us? Well, nothing.
"it's not there yet... ", is the screenplay equivalent of a screaming kid in the back seat yelling "Are we there yet? ". Usually ten minutes into the journey.
Feedback is actually a very simple process and, used correctly,  a powerful tool.  Too often, however, in the screenwriting world, it is used to spread uncertainty and doubt.  “It needs some work...”, is another of my favourite ambiguities and once again it's just a tool to demonstrate one of two simple facts. The person who is reading your work doesn't know what they want or, worse still, they don't know what they are doing. 
Vague critique is a red flag.  If you're working with anyone who delivers confusing, unclear direction you need to nip it in the bud or leave via the nearest exit. 

Let's be fair.
Anyone can lose sight of the plot on occasion. Life, being the wonderful unpredictable force that it is, can wrong foot the best of us in the most spectacular fashion. Be generous with your gifts of doubt and know that even the brightest sparks can fail to find the tinder. That said, you need to know if you're facing a brain freeze or the brain dead.
How can you stay sane when your best wringing can only wrangle the slightest drop from the granite?
Well since you asked.  The key to good feedback is the ability to be specific. Also, try and control the document. Yes, Final draft and others allow collaboration, but unless you’re actually collaborating insist on retaining the master.  The last thing you need in a 160-page script is for someone to add a bunch of typos and then remove your favourite piece of dialogue by accident.

Ask that feedback be delivered in red text on a simple text-based version of the script. Find your own way, but personally, I prefer my clients to literally cut and paste any sections they think need work into Word and offer feedback in red text. By doing this I force them to address the specifics of their concerns. There is no way, when you ask for feedback in this manner, for them to simply palm you off with something like... 'it needs stronger dialogue...' 

Once you have established where the other party has taken issue, the rest is a breeze. It's a simple case of narrowing down the language until you find out exactly what needs work or if something needs a little more explanation. Remember, there will be a brief and guideline and there will be compromises, but you, and you alone, are the expert in your work. It's hardly fair then to expect someone to get your private jokes, understand your illogical leaps or to figure out that the reason there's a chainsaw-wielding monk in scene three is foreshadowing your intention to kill off little Timmy in season two.

The point of specific feedback is to allow you to home in on areas where you and the other party are experiencing conflict.  In one recent project, my editor kept bringing up the villain's dialogue.  He could never really tell me what it was he took exception to, until finally by accident he just came out with it. “I just don't like him”, he said.

“Great,” I replied. “ He's the villain and that's exactly the point.”

He never brought it up again.

You may find over time that the requests for edits lessen for other reasons too, like maybe because you're actually making them work. 

The truth is, bad days, hangovers, lost soccer matches, cheating girlfriends, wisdom teeth and being the first out in Fortnite can all have an effect on how other people view your script.  It's not always about the work. 
If you have a client who consistently offers vague unhelpful feedback and refuses to specify what it is they are objecting too. Then you are probably dealing with a toxic relationship and it's a good idea to get a third party involved to mediate.

I'll leave you with this thought though.  My most recent project was a sitcom based on the real-life adventures of the guy who commissioned the project. I tried to clarify early on in the relationship just how true to life the story would be. The client was pretty clear that while he'd like to keep as many factual elements of the story as possible, he agreed that as a work of fiction, we could deviate for the sake of the story.  Fine, I thought... until we got to the edits.

“I wouldn't do that,” he'd say on a pretty regular basis and held a similar view for most of the main characters. My red flags went up right away and over the next couple of days, we'd argue the case. Sometimes he'd relent, but often I'd have to change the scene or the dialogue to make it more 'realistic'. I'm not going to lie, there were times when that project felt like hard work. but finally, he signed off on it and sent it off to into the ether.

He only sent four emails in the end... that's all he needed. Our screenplay notched up a couple of powerful replies and I was struck by the feedback from the most promising.

“I was impressed by the realism of the characters...”, she wrote amongst a number of gushing compliments.
I've often wondered if her reply would have said that, or indeed if we would have gotten a reply at all if I'd stuck to my guns and written things my way.

Good feedback, even if it isn’t what you want to hear, is not only useful, it's vital.