Rewriting is the difference between your dreams and where you sit today. Over the years, I have employed different approaches to successfully rewriting my script.
Here are 13 tips to get your project into the shape you need to receive financing to produce, attract professional representation and blow people away.
When’s the last time you read your own script? Read the whole thing from page one and give yourself notes. You’ll find you’ll have a lot of notes! Even better, print it out and mark it up with a pen.
I know this seems obvious, but when’s the last time you read your script? Try reading the last 10 pages you wrote. See what happens.
Read it out loud
I’m always surprised at how many writers have never had a table reading of their script. No, you don’t need professional actors to have a table reading. You don’t even need actors or a table. Just grab people and have them over and read it. You’ll learn things about your writing and your script that never occurred to you and it will instantly motivate you to rewrite.
100 Dollar Bills
Writers have problems cutting their scripts down. What if someone said they would pay you $100 for each word you removed from your script without changing the story? How many words can you cut now?
Make a list of all your characters. What characters do you need in your script? What characters are non-negotiable? If there are any characters that you’re not sure if they have ABSOLUTELY need to be in the script, consider cutting them for 3 seconds, grieve the loss, go pro and CUT them now.
The Beginning, Middle and End
Now you have your characters that are definitely in your script. Do they each have a beginning, middle and end? Isolate each character and check. Make a chart. A spreadsheet.
When you realize what you’re missing, it’s easier to organize a rewrite.
Stretch All Journeys
Give your characters long arcs. The longer the path they have in your story, the more cathartic the resolution will be for your audience. See if you can start your characters with greater obstacles and more distance to overcome. This consideration is a great opportunity to improve your story.
Identify the sources of conflict for each of your characters. What problems do they face? What questions do they have? Once you’ve isolated them, consider how you can make the conflicts BIGGER.
Like Godzilla bigger.
Write by hand
Have some problematic sections of your script? Maybe the whole script is a problem. Pick up a pen and start rewriting by hand. It’s amazing what happens. Try it.
Write shorter daily
Write daily in shorter bursts, maybe only a few minutes. Don’t build up the rewrite by carving out six-hour blocks. Sure, you can do this, but by writing several times a day for very short times, you keep your mind and heart locked on the challenges of your story.
Rewrite your script
Retype your entire draft in a new file. This means opening up a brand new document and rewriting the entire screenplay. Do this every time you make a new draft. Your whole script changes in ways you didn’t plan after you run the entire work through your writing instrument. Many people never do this!
Don’t respond to every note
Don’t feel like you have to take on every note in the next draft. You can always work on some larger issues and set aside other notes, as they might not even be relevant next time. Pick your battles, attack the changes and rewrite a new draft.
Respond to every note
Professional writers consider all feedback and ask why they received every note. At the bottom of every piece of feedback lays the keys to the classic. Do not pick and choose feedback. Turn every note into a great note.
This is the most important key to a successful rewrite. Be patient. Don’t give up on a boring, broken story. Hang in there. Think of your audience, waiting for a great movie. Wait it out. Don’t start a new script. Don’t blink.
The writers who can stomach a rewrite change their lives—–it’s that simple. Please commit to sticking with the script you’ve loved from the start and do everything you can to make it the best script people have read all year.
Let us know your favorite rewriting tips below!
Final Deadline: November 11th
Submit your feature, pilot or short script now and receive written analysis by December 10th.
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