It happens to every writer. You start the rewrite of your latest draft, and you need to figure out what needs to be cut or changed. Sometimes it ain’t that easy, and sometimes you hack and slash with wild abandon.
Part of my recent focus has been rewriting the fantasy-comedy spec, which has involved a little bit of both.
It already needed some trimming – at least 5-10 pages’ worth, so that’s just one of the many things taken into consideration as I work my way through it.
I’ve been told my writing is pretty sparse to begin with, so finding material to tighten, let alone cut, has been somewhat tough.
Tough, but not impossible.
There’s the small stuff. A widow/orphan word here, a snippet of dialogue there. Finding some way to get those three action lines down to two, or one if you can swing it.
Then there’s the big stuff. One noteworthy item was a particular story detail that had been around almost since the story’s inception that wasn’t syncing as well with the story as it was now, so that had to be changed. This caused a domino effect on all the things it impacted, which meant making sure all those connections had to be adjusted so everything still meshed in a smooth and organized manner. It was a bit of a pain to deal with, but it had to be done.
The big stuff also has its fair share of little stuff. A scene or sequence that needs a major overhaul – already dealt with a few of those, as well as a few half-page scenes that I hated to cut. Then there was a character I initially loved that proved to be ultimately unnecessary, so out they went.
If I maintain this amount of cutting, there’s no reason the finished draft couldn’t fall within the target range of the aforementioned 5-10 pages. If it ends being more than that, great (but at this point seems highly unlikely). If it’s just a few pages shorter, that’s still okay, and I’ve no doubt my beta readers will have plenty of suggestions that I probably never even considered.
No matter what gets cut or changed, it’s all for the benefit of the story. As long as the script is a tight, succinct and solid read, that’s a win.
(Turns out I’ve written about this before, waaaay back in 2013. A lot of it is still applicable, except for the part about my time in the half-marathon. Those days are long past.)
Friendly reminder: my book Go Ahead And Ask! Interviews About Screenwriting (And Pie) Volume 3 officially comes out on October 7th (two weeks from today), and the final setup of the links on Amazon and Smashwords is just about done, in case you’d like to purchase it slightly ahead of schedule. Signed copies will be available. Just let me know.