Table of Contents
When it comes to rewriting, we can approach it through three stages:
- Assess the damage
So let's go through it.
Evaluation from others
- Get a professional—like Linda Seger to give you script notes.
- Get several people to read your work. (First readers)
- Ask for honest criticism—"nice" or half-hearted feedback doesn't help.
- Develop focused questions to ask your readers. Make sure they aren't yes/no questions but ones that require a sentence answer.
- There is a difference between criticizing and criticism
- Develop a brain trust.
- Criticism sucks, but it makes you a better writer.
- Take time away from it. Then pick it up and read it.
- Did you like it? Did it make you laugh? Cry? Feel any emotion? If it didn't, why not? What is it missing?
- Or does it make you cringe? Do you need more time away from it? If it's been a while, do you need to move on?
- Can you trust your own opinion? Should you trust your own opinion? The more you write and tear apart your work, the better you call B.S. on yourself.
- Make a story that you enjoy first—but understand your market.
Assess the damage
What level requires your attention?
- Action and Response
And what needs to be done?
- Rearrange or remix
Keep Going or Put it Aside or Toss it
- Break the story into beats.
- Visualize the story. What is the physical presence of it?
- Reveals balance, tone, pace, dead scenes, dead acts, and lack of tension.
- Is the plot overwhelming your characters? Seek a balance.
- If you are short, why are you short? What are you missing? If you are long, why are you long?
Options for outlining your structure.
- Why is the scene there? Are you willing to fight for it?
- Is it dramatic? Think WOARO. Does the want start right away?
- Scenes should have conflict, move the plot, reveal character, and develop the setting.
- Scenes create a rhythm, a pulse of the story. Revisit the visual exercise of drawing it out.
- Exposition - cut whatever you can
- Is there a natural rise to the story? Do action and response have a clean build to an outcome?
- Is the scene static?
- Is it jumping or skipping over important beats?
- Does the scene show movement or progression? Is your character in a different place at the end of the scene?
Language and Diction
- Cut, cut, cut
- Spelling, grammar, punctuation
- Get rid of repetition.
- Don't over-describe scenes, actions, or objects. Trust your crew.
- Keep a consistent format.
- What are your words doing?
- Show. Don't tell. Visualize the story and tension on the page.
- Get rid of on-the-nose dialogue—heavy with exposition and plot.
- Reread it. Out loud. To other people. Forwards and backwards.
- Have you done a proper description of all your characters: Intro in CAPS, age, character essence (not always a physical description.)
- Read each character out loud, with no description or other dialogue. Does it all sound like the same character?
- Do each of your characters have a want? Can you defend their every action and word?
- Do they remain decisive in their actions? Are they lost? Are they reflecting on your confusion about their action?
- What is the obstacle? What stands in the way? Is it real?
- Do their actions and words reflect who they are?
My Path to Rewriting
- Start with a strong base. Take the time to build a solid outline.
- Get the story on paper. Stick to the plan. Don't spend time rewriting.
- Take a rest.
- Reread it. Fix what makes you cringe, spelling and grammar, things that make you stumble.
- Take time off.
- Reread it again. You may know its weaknesses. Get it closer to good or great. Also, make sure you enjoy it.
- Keep taking time off and reading it until it flows.
- Hand it to readers. Readers of story. Editors (that you pay) that will call out all of its problems.
- Never have an ego. Listen to those who want the best version of your story.
- Take all the notes and fix all of them.
- Reread it again and correct mistakes. Every edit is a fracture point.
- Reread it again or give it to others.
- Sell it to the world.
- Delete all the crap that doesn't need to be there.
- Repeat Step 1.
- White space—lots of it.
- Most often, you need to cut 10% of the story, act, scene, paragraphs, and sentences.
- Is WOARO working? If it isn't, then you have no story.
- Build and iterate. Evaluate, consider, and rewrite. Practice, practice, practice
This is a chance to make your work perfect!
Choose one of your scripts from Week 1 to 5 and rewrite it.
Ideally, choose one that has a lower mark. However, don’t take one that requires so much work in rebuilding it that you’ll get bogged down and lost.
The 2-3 page limit remains. Pay special attention to the criteria.
- Written in the active, present tense.
- Proper screenplay format (including sluglines; parenthesis, and ALL CAPS on the introduction of characters).
- Proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Proper use of descriptions.
- Includes a title page that uses the proper format.
- Only 3 errors are allowed per script.
This assignment is due: Sunday, November 20 at midnight. ( Saskatchewan time ).