Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite…

ScreenplayI have just read some pages of a screenplay that looks both exciting and very well put together. Of course, it’s in ‘development’ and so there are going to be problems and further work needed – the biggest problem being the one that we come across so often when reading other peoples scripts.

It’s over written. Simply put, the author has used too many words. Sure it crackled on the page, but it crackled a bit too much for me.

For any great read, we need both the ‘sizzle’ and the ‘substance’ on the page. If you don’t get the balance right, it makes for a tough read – to much sizzle and it’s verbose and feels like it’s trying too hard. Too much substance and it becomes hard work to read or even overly sincere. What we all need is balance.

I am not claiming to be a great writer myself, but I have read enough scripts now to know when it’s jumping off the page at me. And that, sadly, is a very rare occurrence.

When writing screenplays it essential to remember that people who read it will often do so under these conditions.

1. They will read it quickly
2. They will want to get through it quickly, this is not a novel they will enjoy with a cup of coco.
3. They will read it begrudgingly (based on their prior experience that most scripts are not good at all).

No-one has time to ‘find’ the great story in your script, it’s got be there, page one, line one…

So make their lives easy. Sounds easy huh? If only it were.

Of course this is all set against the fact that I am writing a script with Judy Goldberg right now. We completed our first forty page treatment last week and we are regrouping for a heavy rewrite (after we complete a corporate job over the next few weeks). We are determined to get the treatment as close to perfect before we give ourselves the pleasure of moving to the first draft.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

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