Okay group... Let's talk a little bit about the revision process. How easy is it for you to revise? Do you find the process difficult? Do you have a hard time cutting loose of scenes that do not push the plot forward? Talk to me!! :)
At first I did find it difficult to revise, and when your green-everyone believes that their story should be told the way it comes to you...and we feel that every scene and dialogue that we write is just perfect. Now that I am experienced, I believe that revising your work is a masterful technique. You will notice the difference of how good your story flows when you cut dialogue. The truth is that, if you desire to master this art, you must learn when to cut the extra stuff loose. If you are a good writer, you can make a script good with less stuff. The average full length script, ranges from 95-112 pages, but when the producer comes and does a shooting draft, they will most likely cut your work to 85 pages...truth be told! That's why your ultimate focus as a Screenwriter should be the plot, structure and substance. As long as you master those three elements, you won't have to cut, because you will make your vision clear.
To all my writers, know that you are the backbone of the industry,
Hey Moses, thanks for such a "great" response. You are so correct. At first, revision feels a bit like working out when you haven't done it for awhile. It's uncomfortable! Getting rid of words, when we as writers are "word driven" is a chore, but there really is freedom in it when you begin to see the effectiveness in the process. You again are correct that it is a "masterful technique," and one that can't be ignored. Producers weed out a lot in a script, so a writer should be used to saying good-bye to words, scenes, and sometimes even characters. Agreed: The most important focus in screenplay writing is, "plot, structure and substance." No two ways about that.
I love revising-- that's when my story really comes up and the characters truly flesh out. I try to be with the characters-- to connect with them, to talk to them, then listen to what they're saying to me-- it's a very organic process. The fact that I'm never sure what's going to happen makes it really exciting. Less exciting is the process of revisions someone else requests-- takes the spontaneity right out of the process!
I never used to enjoy it. It sort of felt like a seamstress who creates a dress, only to have to rip it apart. However, once I began to see how revising changes the face of our writing... and that it irons out the kinks so to speak...I began to fully immerse myself in the process, and now rather enjoy it. :) Great post Anita! Thank you!
Thanks for bringing this topic up. The craft of writing isn't putting words on a page. It's in the re-writing. I've written fifteen screenplays, one television movei script (optioned) and three television movie treatments that were sold and made into films. In addition, I've written more than a 150 newsletter articles and been published in several magazines as well as produced numerous television shows and telepics.
Everything I write is re-written numerous times before it's ready to be seen by anyone else. Once I finish the first draft of a screenplay I set it aside for a few days and think about the characters, the relationships, the locations and the dialogue and the movement of the story. I have two rules for re-writes, "Nothing is sacred" and "Keep the audience in mind." A story has to be believable and characters have to be credible. Sometimes a re-write requires that I combine characters and change locations. Sometimes it means changing a character's motivation and relationships to other characters in the story. Sometimes it means rearranging events. But, most of all, re-writing, at least to me, means editing and revising dialogue by getting rid of all the phrases that are oh so cute and artsy. One writer calls it, "Killing all your babies." If you feel a word or phrase absolutely has to be in, then it probably should be cut. That may sound harsh, but as Mikey's brother used to say, "Try it, you'll like it."
As much as I hate to agree (because often re-writing can be an arduous task), you are correct. Your two rules are excellent. Every writer has their process of weeding out unnecessary dialogue, scenes, and verbiage that does not push the plot forward. Whether it's simply editing and revising dialogue, or re-doing a character's motivation, or whether it is "killing all your babies," the revision process will make or break your film. Cleaning out all the kinks is paramount!!!
Hi Writer at the Sea.
Thank you. I don't who said it, but it bears repeating, "I hate writing, I love having written." It's a phrase that I have to constantly remind myself to remember. If I intend to "love having written," then I have to do the work to get there. An old boss of mine and I were discussing an article I was writing for the company's newsletter, "If you think it's good enough, it isn't." He was so right. Thanks, Phil!