Monday, April 13, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 67 - Baby Step Rewrites

Rewrites are generally pretty tough. We've all moaned about that here. I know I sure have. I think they're difficult for a number of reasons, depending on the situation. They can be hard because you love how your first draft turned out, and you aren't ready to accept that it's flawed. They can be difficult because you know your first draft is flawed, so flawed, in fact, that you really don't know where to begin to fix it. Or, rewrites can be difficult because you simply aren't invested in the project anymore. Whatever the case may be, I think it's always important to get time in between drafts of a script.

After about a month off, I'm just starting to really get back into my Roman army spec. The initial excitement I felt coming off the first draft rapidly cooled as the reality of the rewrite I was facing kicked in. So this week, with an idea of where I had to get the second draft, but no road map to take me there, I started phase one of my rewrite process: baby step rewrites.

Baby step rewrites involve any and all superficial rewrites. The most basic one I can think of is a grammar and spelling rewrite, where nothing but punctuation, formatting (if necessary) and spelling get changed. Sometimes, it's important to do this just to get the brain focused on starting to make changes to the script. Luckily, I'd already moved beyond the proofing stage. So this week was stage two: changing simple plot/setting points. For example, I open the script with a battle sequence, in which the protagonist's opposing general has to display his lack of skill commanding troops. The example I used to show this in the first draft was space filler - it did the job, but it, too, showed a lack of skill, this time on my part. It was dumb, and had to go. This week, it went and was replaced with something better. In another example, I changed a setting to work much better. Simple improvements, but big feeling improvements, too.

The thing that I did not expect, however, with these basic changes was how much they made me realize that many other things will have to change down the road. The baby steps are quickly leading to an out and out sprint out of the starting blocks as draft two gets underway. I just still don't quite know which direction it's heading.

1 comment:

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Oh, I agree how exhilerating the feeling while writing one's first draft without the monkey mind. Of course, the rewrites are inevitable -- as many as it takes.

What I usually do is read the entire script out loud first, listening for the quality of narrative and making certain the plot is moving with every scene. My suggestion is to look for grammaticals last, because as you say, you may have to remove chunks of work and all that time spellchecking etc. was for naught.

It's funny how all writers are so different. I enjoy rewrites because I know it's just going to get better. But it does require a lot of dedication. The investment now will be paid back manyfold in the end.

Good luck! I'm sure it's getting better every day! :))