Monday, April 26, 2010

The Writing Week (Vol. 3) part 121 – Why It’s Better to Proof on Paper, Not on the Computer

Last night, as was my goal for the weekend, I “finished” the… sixth? seventh? draft of my post-Apocalyptic spec. This is a draft that came out of talks with an executive at a production company that’s been developing the script with me since October. No money’s passed hands yet, but the hope is that, once they’re on board, they’ll take it to the studio that they have a first-look agreement with. At the beginning of April, I met with the executive to go over an outline that I’d written for the script (after devoting two months to a massive re-write that she wasn’t totally on board with, we agreed that I wouldn’t put any more words to the page before cementing an outline everyone was pleased with). She approved the outline, and I’ve been writing semi-steadily since.

In last week’s post, I wrote about how I wasn’t exactly feeling the pages I was writing. I’m sort of still there, though I’m a bit more positive. Obviously, having a full (if not a bit long at 122 pages) draft is a good thing, even if it warrants a lot of edits. My main concern is that there are disjointed segments, holes in the information that I think I’ve conveyed – or needed to convey but didn’t fully set up – or redundancies that stem from the fact that I haven’t trusted myself enough that the clues are already in there.

At times like these – or really, any time I’m going to submit a draft – I hold firmly to the conviction that a script needs to be read in hard copy, not on the computer screen. It’s way too easy to overlook things while reading on the computer. The screen makes skipping ahead or skimming that much easier. On paper, though, you can really see the impact of every word, how one scene relates to another, and where formatting errors and inconsistencies make the finished product look sloppy. Printed scripts are also best for edits – both grammar and copy-editing – and for determining the cohesiveness of a story.

Tonight, I’m going home with my freshly printed (on recycled paper) script. I know I have to cut about 10 pages, so I’ll be looking for obvious and not as obvious trims. Some of the earlier scenes in act two are probably unnecessarily long, because I wasn’t sure how much filler I’d need, and therefore overwrote a lot at first. Mostly, however, I’m going to be looking for the key bits of pivotal information that I’m worried aren’t yet in there. Are the disparate parties involved fleshed out enough? Are the protagonist’s character and voice consistent throughout, even in the face of some major reveals? Are all of the reveals earned? Where are there plot holes and redundancies? I’ll be looking for all of this and more, and I know I wouldn’t have as great a chance at finding any of it if I opted to just read it on my computer.