In a recent post, I mentioned the brain dead side effect of rewriting. I am happy to relay that I have at least kept up the momentum, for a whole three days now. My goal is 15 pgs. a day and I have made it to page 50 in my script, but I am nearing the corner towards that dastardly Act III, so the ambitious page count may falter in the coming days. And of course, I’ve had another idea for the third act. Maybe I should write a novel, then I could use all the story ideas I’ve had and propose them as “if you turned left instead of right, this could’ve happened” story lines.
I went to film school, but many of the tools I have learned for screenwriting have come from my own research and interest in bettering my writing; books, articles, and teleconferences. If you’ve read some of my other posts in regards to the differences between screenwriting and novel writing, you’ll understand what a different mindset screenwriting requires, but I’m not going to go into those details here. This one is meant for rewriting.
I thought I’d share a few tips, some good ones, or those that I think are good because I found they made the biggest direct impact. These tips are more inclined for screenwriters, but some of them should be helpful to writers of all forms. Most of us know about cutting scenes that don’t move story, creating subtext in dialogue, and making sure there’s conflict, etc. but here are a few others I’ve been keeping in mind during this final (please let this be my final) rewrite. Also, thanks to irscriptwriter who encouraged me to stick with my two spaces after a period rule because it was causing aneurysms. 🙂
1. Wordsmithing – more meaning with fewer words. For screenwriters this is key as a page count limits us. It also means to take generic words like “walks” and replace it with saunters, struts, or lumbers which immediately gives the reader a visual and negates further description.
2. Imagine the location or setting and try to describe it in three vivid and evocative terms. Do the same with your characters. As with wordsmithing, the right word can have multiple meanings, and immediately stir the reader’s imagination.
3. Make the script fun to read. Screenplays have a specific format, but you can build momentum and action by the style on the page. We create the story and how the reader will follow it, so in that we have freedom. There’s also an unspoken rule of making blocks of action only four lines a piece so the reader doesn’t skip through larger blocks of text, just FYI.
4. Make it a silent film. Read only the action. Would a reader still understand what’s happening? This helps solve the “talking head” problem where exposition is given via dialogue.
I have pages upon pages of rewriting tips, so if anyone is interested in more, I will share them in another post.
Have a great weekend everyone!
5 thoughts on “A Few Rewriting Tips”
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Great post! I have always thought about making a silent film.
Thanks! I like the idea of looking at your work in this way because you can quickly determine if something is missing.
Also, I loved The Artist. In this day in age, I thought it was brilliant!