Monday, June 06, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 179 - Editing your Script

Fade Out. The first draft of your script is done. All printed out. Look at it. So pretty... Now what?

For a lot of writers, that first draft is a prized possession not to be messed with. It's been a labor of love, and now it's perfect. Only, it's not really. It takes a lot of time (and a lot of scripts) to realize that the first draft is usually far from ready to see the light of day. Unless you're William Goldman, pre-planning your entire script to the point that you can churn out three perfect pages per day, you will most likely face a rewrite of that draft. And of the draft after that. And the one after that. The real trick is setting your game plan for those rewrites.

About a week ago, I finished the first pass at my Medieval spec. Even as I was writing, I knew that it required some major attention in a few key places. I pushed through, though, and printed the sucker out a week ago Saturday. Typically, I'll spend the next three days after printing reading over the script, marking edits and places where I need to come back for more extensive rewrites. Smaller edits don't require marking pages; but for instances where I need to revise dialogue, cut a scene, or invest more time and effort, I'll jot the page number down on the title page. Some title pages will wind up with 30 to 50 page numbers recorded. Of course, the level of further attention per page will vary, but none of those are considered simple, quick edits. (Depending on what I know needs attention, I'll also scribble notes to myself on the title page; "Look at the relationship between [characters] X and Y," or, "Is his motivation consistent throughout?")

Once I've completed the read-through, I'll spend the following day doing the small edits. Mostly, these are word cuts or changes, dialogue tweaking where I already know what I want to change the line to, and other simple fixes. (This is also the stage I just finished yesterday.) Then, the real work begins. Scenes need to be reworked or rejiggered. Characters are removed or added. Backstories are fleshed out. In short, this is a larger rewrite. And that's what I'm embarking upon now.

We have a League meeting a week from tomorrow. I want to give the gang ample time to read the full script, but I also do not want to send them pages until I've ironed out some of the larger issues. I'm focusing on about 9 key things right now - many interwoven - that I want to address before doling out the script. It'll still be imperfect, but implementing those changes will at least shed more light on what I'm trying to do in the script. And after all that's done... Another rewrite!