I’ve been in rewriting hell, in paradise.
Why is it so hard?
Because I revise word by word.
Because I have to get my story straight so that the world is logical and makes sense.
Because I don’t want to have to do it again.
Because there will always be typos, misused words, grammar issues, and other mechanical glitches.
Here are some of the other concerns I’m addressing in this third revision:
1. Do my characters stay in character?
2. Events happen in the correct order.
3. I don’t want to repeat myself.
4. Does every chapter or scene have a “set up” and a “punchline?”
5. Did I use the right words to describe things?
6. Do I need to either add or subtract descriptions?
7. Do I use a word too many times?
8. Am I using the right tense?
9. Is the dialog funny?
10. Is there enough suspense?
And of course, there’s always some other concern I’ve overlooked.
Please notice that I have no self-doubt about whether or not the book is good. On the contrary, I’m supremely confident that the structure and the story are how I want them to be.
This is any writer’s goal, and once reached, it’s time to clean up the story and get out. It’s easy to overedit and kill a good story. This is why this draft has to be a final revision. I also believe that the only critic anyone must please is themselves.
I also believe the key to success with a long-form piece, whether a screenplay, TV series, or a book, is patience, but not too much. Seek balance in all things!
Treatments Versus Screenplays?
I’m working with a new student, and the question of whether or not just to write a treatment came up. The short answer is that if you’re a newbie, treatments are great for structuring and understanding a story, but it’s rare to sell an idea without a script to back it up.
One of the reasons I teach at NYU is to help writers get a first draft done efficiently, so the fear of writing is reduced, and the pleasure of writing dialog can be fully enjoyed. That really is the fun part, having the characters interact.
A free sample treatment is available on my website, and if you’re reading this, you received it when you subscribed.
When creating a treatment, I recommend that you assign locations to each scene BEFORE you create it. Creating a structure for designing a story is freeing because you always know your first step.
Creativity flourishes with some limitation, and once you know where a scene is set, you know a lot about what can happen. You can’t raise your voice in a library, you can only whisper in a church and you can’t be heard shouting over loud music in a club.
Also, once you have your main character, knowing where they go and what they do is the fast track to deep understanding. Always keep in mind that behavior is character.
I find that creating stories outside can be very satisfying.
Please enjoy the latest episode #87 of Jokeonstick!
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz