Admitting you need to rewrite your script should be obvious, but our admission at the deepest level that our story has problems is not a foregone conclusion to writers. I have often known I needed to do a rewrite, but inside my heart, I want to believe it is closer than it is. Is that truly embracing the rewrite? No.
Open yourself up to everything new, think of a blank white page, and focus on change. And before you move forward, here are seven things to do before you’re back at it.
Don’t Fix Everything
You got all your notes and your plans and every change you wanna make. It’s a lot. Well, don’t try and make all your problems disappear in one draft. You can rewrite again! There are too many beautifully mysterious things that happen in the creative act of writing. Focus on a few things you need to address and let the others wait. Your story will have a new list of needs after you’re done. Think of a few things to work on for now and go from there.
Be a Reader
Make sure you read your script a couple times before you get started again. I tend to forget what’s in there and every time I take the whole thing in I find new ways to build my story into something truly special. We often ask other people to read it and give notes. That’s a good thing. But we need to be intimate with what we have to improve our relationship with our next draft. And if you think you’ve read it, read it again. Today’s a new day.
The Perfect Scene
Some scenes have been worked out to the point where we don’t even look at them any more. They are so special. People have raved about them and we know they are the cornerstones of our future amazing script. Precious elements of our scripts should be reviewed. We might not change a thing, but it instills a professional and productive attitude of humility towards what’s on the page. I’m often shocked when I discover something is not as fantastic as I remember.
Question the Open
Opening your script demands an original, visual and clear introduction to your story which instantly engages the audience. This is a tall order, and you might believe you have met the challenge. In my experience, looking at the page one of my script can often alter and, most importantly, solve the issues that follow. Be nimble and honest with yourself by keeping everything on the table, always keeping in mind you don’t have to change a word, if you choose. You’re in charge.
The People in Your Story
Audiences emotionally connect to your story through the characters. The relationship between audience and character is richer and deeper if they have the time to develop the bond. Too many characters compromises this crucial dynamic. Can you combine a couple characters? Can you cut a character, even one that you love the most? As an exercise, determine who you would lose if you had to. Once you open that door, you might find again that less is truly more.
Take the Old Note
Remember the dumbest feedback you ever got on your script? What was the worst note you ever got in your life? Lose your pride and consider if the person was right. What’s the reason you received that comment? It might not matter at all, but the practice of staying open to all feedback keeps me most vulnerable to unfiltered inspiration. Keeping score on who gave me bad notes makes me write worse.
Always come back home with your story. Where did this begin for you? Where did you first think of the idea? The wonderful instant where that lightning strikes can keep the fire burning until you’re done. Keep it green. Remember why you loved this idea. Cherish why starting the script in the first place was cool. Maintaining the joy and opportunity for what you are making with your own hands will keep the road lit through the unknown times of revealing what the story was always meant to be, for in the end, it’s beautiful work, isn’t it?
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