Returning to the sprucing-up stage

It’s going to take just a little bit more than a new coat of paint

It all started with a “Scripts Wanted” listing.

A small prodco with an even smaller budget was looking for a particular kind of script. I felt that one of my earlier efforts was a perfect match, so I sent it in.

A few days later came the response “Just not what I’m looking for.” A bit disappointing, but that’s the way it is. No big deal. I’ve moved on.

It was at this point I realized it had been quite a while since I’d actually read the script. As far as I could remember, it was in good shape.

So I read it.

The result? It’s better than I remember, and a lot of the jokes still work. But what it really needs is just a good, solid edit/polish. There’s definitely some fat in need of trimming, and a lot of that is just extra and/or unnecessary words.

The draft I’d been using for years was 109 pages, which is a little excessive for a comedy. I’ve completed the initial edit, which brought it down to 105. A more thorough red pen edit is underway, and after going through the first third, another page has been cut out, bringing the current total to 104. The hope is to cut out at least another 2-3 pages.

There are at least two sequences (so far) that need rewriting to accommodate some of this editing, and the solution to one of them (a key part of the story) came to me a lot faster than I was expecting. That’s always nice. There’s no reason I couldn’t be done with a much more presentable draft in a week or less, which is also nice.

Since this script is from way back when, it was quite the experience to look at how I used to write with the advantage of having all the knowledge and skill I’ve acquired since then.

Go through your own catalog of completed scripts. Almost-completed and first drafts are allowed. When was the last time you looked at one of your earliest efforts? How does it compare to your most recent project?

I bet it’s super-easy for you to spot the differences between then and now. You might be surprised at how much you’ve improved, or possibly even laugh at how bad you used to be. Happens to everybody.

Whenever I would pass this script along to another writer, I would always precede it with the caveat “This is one of my earlier scripts, so the writing’s not as good.”

After this edit/polish, I don’t think I’ll be saying that anymore.

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