Monday, September 21, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 90 - Editing the Edits

One of the many things I've learned about trying to make it as a screenwriter over the past year - and there have been many - is that it's important to plan for buffer time. Deadlines are things that (up and coming) writers absolutely have to meet. Beyond that, though, it's equally important to factor in time for edits, tweaks, re-writes, and anything else that might come up.

Today, just now as a matter of fact, I sent my producer and manager the umpteenth draft of the script. (When I say draft here, I mean it in the loosest of possible terms. A lot of writers define a draft as a version of the script in which substantial scenes/sequences have been changed or rewritten. This might mean that whole parts of the script have been removed, or brand new content has been added. What I'm talking about now, though, is more of a revision in which potentially minor edits have been made.)

The rewrites started out pretty big. At first, I wasn't quite prepared to accept them all. I was still ignorant about the assumed success of the script as it was back in May. I thought that the notes would change it dramatically, corrupting its "integrity" in the process. I was definitely wrong.

Once I came to accept the fact that the script not only needed changes (which I knew, but don't think I really wanted to make), it was then easy to see that the proposed changes I was given would really go a long way toward making the script stronger. From there, the rewrites got smaller. Elements that I was hanging onto from earlier drafts (actual drafts, in this case) were becoming more and more apparently out of place. As those got cut, the streamlining process kicked up a notch. The larger structural and plot rewrites segued into smaller edits to trim dialogue and action, particularly to keep the fast pace.

Over the past week, I've probably done no fewer than three edits, where I've worked off of a revised version my producer went through line by line. Each email from her had fewer and smaller edits, condensing beats, shortening monologues, and cutting the page count. At the start of this process, the first draft she read was 105 pages. It ballooned to 117 as I incorporated rewrites. Finally, after weeks of tightening, trimming, and tucking, we're back down to 106. Though only a page longer than the initial draft I gave her, this draft has so much more weight to it. The fluff and repetition are gone, as are the elements that weren't working. All that's left is a deeper, more substantial script that I am genuinely proud of.


Anonymous said...

I have been following through the progress of your script for some time now through your blog. I am going through some kind of a similar process right now. So I can understand what you are talking about regarding 'drafts' and 'revisions.' I think people use 'draft' a little too often just for the gravity of it.

Cake Man said...

Thanks for the thoughts, scriptlarva. Drafts are certainly different than revisions. I interned at a major prod. co. for a while, and I was surprised at times to see revisions come in randomly, which had a small tweak here or there - mind you, I don't think the writer was getting paid for these changes. Those weren't new drafts, as all content remained the same. Instead, these were edits - i.e. revisions. Pure and simple. It's all too easy to claim to have done X number of "drafts" on a script, when in reality, what we're talking about is one or maybe two actual drafts with major differences, and smaller edits beyond that.

Btw, Who Wrote My Screenplay? - great site!