October 30, 2011

Revisions and Rewrites, on Scriptchat

So, you've got a script. You've finished your first draft and you have that new mother glow. Congrats!
It's funny, it's moving, it puts you on the edge of your seat, but your job is not over. It needs work. What do you do now?

You follow the wisdom of the Scriptchatters.

Get some learning into ya!

REVISIONS & REWRITES Sunday 9th October

* A revision is tightening and polishing.
* A rewrite is reworking the whole piece.
* After getting structure right, pick each scene apart, one by one. Are there enough conflicts? Forward motion? Is this scene necessary?
* Look at each scene. What HAPPENS, what information is carried? Make a list. (Seriously, do this.)
* Rewriting can be easier (and less overwhelming!) if you make a list of things to accomplish, e.g. character arc – check to see if you have scenes that do that.
* Track the transitions.
* It’s much easier to get feedback at the outline stage! Find holes, make a solid foundation. Save yourself a lot of time and stress.
* Don’t show your vomit draft to anyone.
* Read dialogue aloud for rewrites.
* One method for rewriting is to go back through and analyse one character at a time, focussing on their dialogue, movements, action, arc, etc.
* You can also pick a character and just read through all their dialogue, to see it’s consistent.
* Do a table read for dialogue (you will learn a lot).
* Is your dialogue rich in subtext, or full of painful obviousness?
* Is your exposition neatly packed away or in glaring full-view?
* Assess if you can show through action or the physical what’s currently happening in dialogue.
* Another method of rewriting is removing all dialogue temporarily from your script, read it like a silent film, see if it makes sense. It should.
* And yet another suggestion is read your script backwards, line by line. Do the means justify your end?
* Use a beat sheet. Google it if you don’t know what it is. Blake Snyder was big on it.
* When you get a producer’s rewrites, it’s important to love your core story so much that it doesn’t matter what exterior it wears.
* A strong antagonist makes a protagonist strong.
* Print out hard copy of your screenplay for editing (recycle and re-use!), and mark up with a pen. You’ll miss less and won’t just be shifting sentences about like you would on computer.
* I like writing and editing on paper as well for the fact you’ll edit it again as you’re transcribing it all into your computer. An extra filtration opportunity.
* Before AND after your first draft, write a synopsis. Holes becomes evident. Plus you’ll need it as a pitching tool.
* Instead of editing and editing and shifting bits around, consider rewriting the entire script. May save you time and heartache.
*There are no rules when it comes to rewriting and revisions. Experiment. See what works for you!

Yep, it's a lot of info., but it's a big process and it helps to have a game plan. I'd love to hear if you try out or have used one of these methods, or have a suggestion of another that should be added to the list.

Screenwriters Anonymous - for people who think Courier 12 pt.is sexy.

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