Monday, May 17, 2010

REWRITING - Are We Having Fun, Yet?

David E. Kelley wrote or created TV shows from LA Law to Ally McBeal to Boston Legal. He has written 100’s of episodes. And he writes in longhand. On legal pads. Every day. Time consuming? Maybe. However, he does not rush his writing. And neither should you.

Many times, screenwriters think they can “fly” through their rewrite. But this attitude suggests that rewriting is tedious but necessary. Like a chore to be dispensed with quickly.

What if screenwriters thought of rewrites as enjoyable? What if they realized that rewrites are, actually, “the fun part”? The hardest work is done, already. The structure is in place. The characters have traits and goals. You know what the conflicts and theme are.

Now is the time to let your characters breathe …and come to life.

Here’s a way of approaching your next rewrite that you might not have thought of:

When rewriting, avoid using the copy & paste commands.

Yes, I’m serious.

With screenplays, less is more. However, you must still convey so much. That means that you must choose exactly the right word. Every time.

Keep a copy of your prior draft at your side and refer to it as you actually rewrite each word. By using this technique, you will be forced to re-choose every word of your script and ask yourself: “Is this the best way to convey this character, this action, this situation?”

You will see yourself choosing better verbs, saying in one word what you’d said in three. You might even find yourself removing large sections of a scene. Or even an entire scene. It can be heartbreaking. But writing is not for the squeamish.

You must be brutally honest with yourself. Your characters - and your readers - will thank you for it.

Have a great writing day!

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