Friday, August 26, 2011

Approaching the rewrite cont'd

Notes people give you after a table read or after reading your draft are important.  Not because they will tell you what to do, but because the FLAG ISSUES.  It's important not to take dictation when incorporating notes, but to use them as clues to the deeper problems.

The real difficulty in rewriting is that it's too easy to make cosmetic changes to your work, rather than "reweave the tapestry."  Making cosmetic changes only results in what looks and reads like a patch job.  The script has to look like it was meant to be the way you want it to be.  And that means the underlying issue that a note flags must be addressed.  And that may involve a little or probably a lot of rewriting, or really rethinking.  In fact, resolving the underlying issue may result in just a little change on the surface of the script.  It's just that you MUST attack the issue from the root.

That's why I highly recommend restating your story for yourself and then comparing it to what you wanted to write.

Once you've flagged issues, it's time to do a scene by scene analysis of your draft.

Check each scene is inherently dramatic by distilling it to it's components.  Is there a character acting for a goal opposed by an adversary, either explicitly or implicitly in every scene?  If not, there better be a good reason why not.

Have you told your story visually first?  Or have you just planted characters in a place and started them talking?

Go through each intro and exit of your characters.  Do they enter the story IN CHARACTER doing something that defines who they are?  Are their first and last lines of dialogue signature statements?  Recall the famous first and last lines of Bogart in Casablanca.  His entire character arc can be defined with his first and last line of dialogue.  Can you say the same for your characters?

Do a dialogue pass and eliminate any unnecessary lines?  It's likely 1/3 to 1/2 of your dialogue - if you've done the steps above first - will now be unnecessary.  Also, now's the time to change all your on point, on-the-nose, subtext-less dialogue to off-point, subtext-laden dialogue.

Give yourself a rewrite plan before you dive in and you'll have a better chance of doing a successful rewrite by the end.

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