I’ve been in rewriting hell or heaven this past week. It’s sometimes hard to tell because whether or not the rewrite is effective-it’s hard work. But, mostly, the carrot of completion is what weighs the process more towards the heavenly side.
My private class, Rewriting The Screenplay in 6 Weeks, is in progress, and each of my students is talented and has a great, original story. Their first drafts, which were completed in my N.Y.U class were very good, and the question of what is an effective revision is the theme of this class. What I share is a simple, effective technique that allows first-time writers to learn a revision process that takes a first draft to the next level. The structure and character arcs are solid and don’t need further work. The next revision will be to improve dialog, description, and delineate the sub-plot.
One of my private students finished her third draft this week. As part of her package with me she received an evaluation of the script, where I gave a detailed review of the draft, which included my specific scene-by-scene suggestions of how to massage the material to make it commercially viable. In this case, the script was very close to being ready to present, so this pass will be to tweak the thematic aspect of the script and make sure that all the loose ends are tied up.
My own work, The Naked Tango, is more than halfway through its second revision. In this case, the first part of the novel was revised, a new middle section was written from scratch, and a revision of the existing third act is in progress. I’m focusing on plot and structure, and mercifully, finally repaired the structure problem that had plagued the story even after it was accepted for publication.
Here is a simple technique to rewrite your story.
1. Put it away for a few days or a week, or until you feel detached.
2. Print a hard copy.
3. Reread it with a pencil, making notes, not stopping until you reach the end.
4. Create a scene-by-scene outline with page numbers. Hand-written or typed, the key is a one to two-line description of the basic action in the scene.
5. Write a one-paragraph description, like the ones you find on the back of a book. This will allow you to confirm that the structure is correct.
6. Reread and correct repetitions of information.
7. Reread for word choice.
8. Reread for description.
9. Now, make a copy and go to work, keeping your outline as your guide.
10. Rinse and repeat until you’re happy.
11. Have several people read it, and only make changes if three or more people have a comment.
12. Do whatever research you need to do, and get it out into the marketplace. My book, How To Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days might be helpful.
Joke on a Stick Edition #78 is here! Click below and enjoy the show!
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz