Monday, September 14, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 89 - When do you Make A Stand?

If you recall last week's Writing Week, I was winding down Labor Day weekend waiting for the edits on my post-Apocalyptic spec (some day I hope to be able to give you the title) to come back from my producer. Monday night, I received an email from her that something had come up, which delayed her getting to the script. In the mean time, though, she'd done some thinking and decided that it would be worth adding some of the science behind the scenario I was writing about to the actual script. I've been working on this spec on and off for over 20 months now, and one of the first things I had definitively settled on was that I was never going to go into the science. For the first time since I signed the option agreement at the top of the summer, I was adamantly against the note I'd gotten. I agonized over how to proceed.

This might seem like a no-brainer to many of you, but I was pretty worked up for a while. As new writers, I feel like we get it drilled into our heads to be easy to work with, to know how to take a note and to propel our careers onward by making people want to work with us again. Because my producer and manager and I have been working so well together so far, I didn't want to risk looking problematic right after they felt the script was ready to go out. I would try to work with the note if it came down to that, but I was strongly opposed to it.

I decided to send my producer an email (in response to her note), explaining my two major reasons for being against the additions. The next morning, I sent a follow-up, reiterating both my point and, should the additions be desired still, my willingness to work the changes into the script. It is in no small part due to the fact that I have been so willing to work with the notes I've gotten so far that the lines of communication between the three of us working on this project right now are so open, and I was able to speak my mind. In the end, we opted to remove a few small lines of dialogue that alluded to certain elements, rather than add anything major - in favor of my point of view on the issue. I really count myself pretty luck to be working with industry professionals who honor my opinions on these things (which is not always the case for a writer, as almost any book/story/article on screenwriting will tell you).

Then, on Saturday, I got the edits. Going through them, I noticed one short scene cut and a few lines here or there streamlined out of the script. For the most part, though, the script changed very little. It came in about 7 pages shorter, but cutting a line or two on one page can dramatically adjust content on subsequent pages, so there wasn't actually a ton cut out. There were some instances of dialogue being moved from character no longer in the script to those still in, which I'll go back and reconfigure to sound more like the people delivering them. I'll admit that I was not 100% comfortable having my material in someone else's hands with their figurative red pen hovering over it and me nowhere to defend my work, but seeing the final product has put me back at ease. I'm still not sure I like the idea of edits without me around, but maybe that's something I'll have to get used to going forward in this business.

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