Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I recently finished a draft of an action script, and after receiving notes I am seeing what should have been obvious at the time. My sidekick character has a habit of overshadowing my protagonist. It’s not the worse problem to have. At least I have a protagonist, and you better believe that there are scripts floating around good companies that barely have one. Anyway, I don’t think my problem is that my protagonist isn’t interesting. It’s just that my sidekick is a real bad ass, probably the first supporting character I’ve had that I might write an entirely new script around. But until that script comes, to the chopping block I go.
Take away from my sidekick, add to my protagonist. Add a little muscle, trim a little fat. But what if the fat is delicious and chewy and flavorful? We’ve all been there before, pondering the fate of a line that we cherish, considering where else we might put that half page of golden wit. Sometimes we ponder and consider so much that we make the wrong decision.
I confess that I have recognized in past and current scripts solidly written lines and pages that did not benefit my script, and rather than cutting these tumors I forced them into a draft. I even tweaked small scenes around them for the worse in the hopes that it made the fat seem more like muscle. This is always a terrible idea. It doesn’t matter if your buddy really digs your scene. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be the line that makes the trailer. It’s hard enough in screenwriting to recognize what isn’t needed in our scripts. When you see something in your script and you know it shouldn’t be there, chop it off. You can put the trimmings in a separate file like Zombie does and eventually use all the scraps to create a screenwriting abomination.