INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)
When writers send me a rough draft of a book or script for notes, they really really want me to tell them all they have to do is rearrange some deck chairs (punch up some dialog, cut or add a scene).
When I read a draft I really want to find that’s all it needs to make it great – or even just viable. But usually I can’t. Usually it needs more than a cosmetic ‘fix’ and no amount of cosmetic ‘fixes’ will get the script where it needs to be.
You probably knew when you started this project would need more than one draft, but now you feel that you’ve put in so much time and energy it must be close to done.
“Maybe one more pass to polish dialog on the existing draft…?”
“What if I just trim the scenes and tighten…?”
You desperately want your project to be just a kiss away from being finished, done, ready to send out to everyone you know and everyone they know. In fact, admit it, you probably already did send it to some people (not just friends for feedback). Don’t worry about it (and don’t try to recall it now), but you should really try to ‘fix’ it before sending it out to more people. It’s hard enough to get someone to read anything once. If they didn’t love it the first time they won’t read it again. And you’re script isn’t just a kiss away, it’s a shout away.
But maybe I’m wrong.
First, get feedback from at least 3 people (see my other posts on who can give you feedback and how to get it) – to clarify and verify your instincts and get consensus on what kind of rewrite you’re doing:
4 Kinds of Rewrites
Usually, a Rough Draft lays the cards on the table, a 2nd Draft gets you into the ballpark and a 3rd Draft gives you a viable project that’s ready to start showing around. But sometimes it takes more. Ask your other reader what kind of rewrite they think it needs.
If you’re between the rough draft and second draft you probably have to take a step back and (re-)outline and in order to do that you probably need to take another step back and clearly answer these essential elements: Elements of a TV pitch (mostly applicable to a movie or novel too).
Then (re-outline) then re-write.
It seems like you’re going backwards when if you could just straighten those chairs… but it is actually the shortest, fastest way to a finished kick-ass project.
If you need feedback or aren’t sure what kind of rewrite you need, you can get more information about my coaching and consulting services here or contact me directly at 323-717-4731 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your particulars.