Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Writing Week (Vol. 6) part 267 - Done with Revisions

It's been almost a month since my collaborator, W.A., and I received feedback from our producer on the working draft of the sci-fi spec I delivered. Overall, her notes were really positive (and if you look back a few weeks, in sync with ones I got from The League). As I frequently do, I assumed that the rewrite work would be fast and easy. I don't know why I always do that - it's hardly ever the case.

All things considered, this pass was nowhere near as onerous as it could have been. I had a few major challenges to meet, which would then all string throughout the entire script. My task wasn't to insert a scene or two here or there and call it a day, but to infuse the entire script with new elements, refined existing ones, and to strengthen characters all around. Fortunately, the coherency of the notes made my job easy in some respects, since I could concentrate on three or four main objectives, and then just make sure they tracked throughout.

Without getting into too many specifics, one of the main things I had to do was to better elucidate the science behind the "sci" component of the sci-fi, and then to tie that more clearly into the protagonist's and antagonist's goals. Before we sent the script to our producer, I had an inkling that she would suggest the science be clarified. I wasn't sure, though, nor was I at a good place to determine exactly how to go about doing that. For months leading up to that moment, I had been so closely mired in the script so as to not have clear, discerning eyes when looking at it. Her notes validated my suspicions, and the call with her, along with two consecutive days of calls with W.A. shed a ton of light on how to proceed.

I was off an running. Curiously, though not surprisingly in the least, the further I got into that element, the more the other weak links tightened. By nailing the science, I was gaining a stronger foothold for my character work. As the characters fleshed out, their goals, drives, and interactions with the world solidified. Soon, the antagonist had become a more powerful, more terrifying force, not only because his goals were clearer, but because his back story leapt off the page. Inversely, the protagonist became more sympathetic and more deserving of support. 

While things tied together more, they also streamlined naturally. The script dropped from a way-too-long 121 pages, to a much more manageable 109. Dialogue chunks that had been twelve or fourteen lines long were shortened by half. The language used in describing the science became more uniform, and the smaller lexicon made every event much clearer and more readily comprehensible. I'm doing a final read through over the next couple nights to make sure that the elements I added all track, and since I jumped around as ideas struck, I want to ensure that I didn't neglect to delete or add something where appropriate. But I'm very pleased and excited by this draft and can't wait to get it back to W.A.