Make that sprawling epic a little less so

There can be such a thing as too much
There can be such a thing as too much

An underrated bonus of working on a first draft is having the freedom to put in just about anything you think will work (provided, of course, it advances the plot, story and character development).

There will be the inevitable edits and rewrites afterward, but this is your chance to take that outline and really build on it.

But it’s also easy to overdo it.

All that witty dialogue, intricate scene descriptions or clever subplot you just thought up can quickly add up without you realizing it, and suddenly your tight, compact story has become a bloated, overstuffed mess.

Scripts usually run 90-120 pages – one page equals one minute of screen time. Does yours fall somewhere in that range? Anything more or less, and you’ve got some work to do.

If you ask somebody to read your script, one of the first things they’ll do is check out how long it is. 97 pages? Cool. 137? Unless you’re an award-winning filmmaker, not so cool.

“But there’s nothing I can cut!” you exclaim.

Wanna bet?

Once you’re done with your current draft, don’t look at it for at least a week; two would be better. Put it away and walk away. Focus on something else.

Then come back and just read it.  No editing, just reading.  Still think there’s nothing you can do with it?

Now the fun begins.  Go through it and really scrutinize each scene.

Is it absolutely crucial to the story? If so, can it be shorter?

All that great stuff you came up with on the fly – does it still work?

It may be tough at first to kill all those darlings, but more than likely, you won’t even miss them after they’re gone.

If you want to be a better writer, you have to learn how to not let your ego and emotions dictate your edits. In the end, both your script and writing skills will be the better for it.

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