Monday, February 22, 2010

The Writing Week (Vol. 3) part 112 - Edits and Page Count

It was one hell of a busy week. I sent a full, revised draft of my script to my producer, Gretchen, on Saturday afternoon. That version was the result of rewrites based on three big plot issues I had to address that arose in a January 26 draft. After a call with Gretchen and much deliberation on how to revise the glaring holes, I managed to iron things out with another pass. Two weeks after the January 26 draft, I was ready to send again, this time having done 3 solid, fine-toothed comb edits. 

On Tuesday, I got a call from Gretchen. She'd read the newest draft (the one I just sent on Saturday), and was much more pleased with it. Of course, there were still some small things that I would need to tweak before the script was "ready." One of the biggest concerns wound up being the page count. At 119 pages, the script was closing in on long, especially in this ADD age. As writers, we're taught that a script "is" 120 pages long, with Act One being the first 30 pages, Act Two the next 60, and Act Three the final 30. My script weighed a little heavy in the middle at 25, 69, 25, respectively. Still, I felt that the slightly less conventional page count structure shouldn't be much of a concern. The production company that we're working with already read an earlier version and liked the new first act we'd presented them with back in January, so I didn't feel as though adherence to traditional guidelines was as pressing. They know my style and have been working with me for over four months now. I felt safe "sacrificing" traditional structure for the story that needed to be told.

Ultimately, Gretchen agreed that we could go forward and present the production company with a draft that's heavy on Act Two, and let them read and review before trying to make any big changes. What everything boiled down to was that there was nothing we could (or that I would) comfortably cut to bring the page count down closer to 110. We'd ironed out such a smooth story - despite what the longer count might indicate - that I was adamant about cutting simply to turn in something shorter. In my gut, I think that was a wise decision, but we'll see what the production company's feedback finds. 

After speaking with Gretchen on Tuesday and determining that, while I'd address a few more changes, cutting scenes or sequences for the sake of page count would not be a part of that, we began a final edit phase. As I was addressing a few final beats, Gretchen was going through and making her own edits, trimming and clarifying anything she could for the sake of a better read. We've worked this way throughout - I submit a draft to her, which she then edits and returns, giving me final say over any and all changes. For the most part, this cuts out redundancies in dialogue that I don't always spot (and Onyx will be the first to tell you that sometimes my dialogue is a bit repetitive) and smoothing out scene transitions. The page count held steady at 119, and at about 1:15am Friday morning, I sent the "final" version to Gretchen. I'm hoping it made the weekend reading pile at the production company, but I'm not sure. It's sure hard not to check my inbox every two minutes to see if we've heard back from them.

I'm not quite sure what to expect from here on out. Theoretically, things could move quickly once the production company execs read - if they like it. On the other hand, there's no money on the table, so they're not compelled to read quickly. Also, if they come back and don't like it or have major re-write notes, Gretchen and I aren't obligated to stick with them. They've shown interest, which is great, but at a certain point, we have to decide if it's worth doing a lot more work for free on a script that we currently like. The notes might bring something up that we didn't realize, which is another option. Who knows what this next week or two could bring? Your guess would be as good as mine.