Monday, May 12, 2008

Screenwriting 101: Redrafting

Writing is fun. Rewriting though…is not fun. I have yet to meet somebody who legitimately enjoys redrafting their scripts, but it’s a necessary evil. Like flossing. And although some people might get away with not flossing and still have an awesome set of pearly whites. If you want your script to be the best and brightest out there (and who doesn’t?) you need to do not just one rewrite, but multiple ones.

But, you may think, why multiple rewrites? Isn’t one enough?

In a word, no.

You have multiple things to fix when you’re rewriting, and each thing is difficult enough to find as it is. The easiest way to do this is to do multiple “passes” of a script, looking for certain things, like characterization (dialogue continuity generally, but also actions, for each character,) story continuity, rephrasing (I go through the whole script and generally ask myself “can I explain this in less space while explaining it more thoroughly,”) look for extraneous scenes, look for missing scenes, and general spelling/grammar errors (or, the bane of any writer in the era of spellcheck, writing a totally different word than you mien. See what I did there? That’s what we call ‘comedy.’ Or what I do anyway.) It’s best to do this after some time has past so you can look fresh upon the material.

This may be arduous to do once on a 100+ page script, let alone over and over and over and over again as you look for each individual thing.

But why make the script the best it can be? Odds are, you’re going to be asked by whoever buys it to do a rewrite anyway? Well, the thing is, if you don’t do a good job with that rewrite, then you’re in real trouble, because the studio or the producer will bring in another writer to do your work for you, and before you know it you’re splitting your paycheck 15 ways to Tuesday. And nobody wants that, except for us other writers trying to get paid for a lot of work you already started. So polish your script as brightly as you can before you try and sell it, that way you’ll have to do less editing when that moment arises.

Next week’s topic is going to be the “a-ha!” moment. Good writing!

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