Screenwriting 6 – The Rewrite

The Rewrite can be three things to a screenwriter:

  1. Dreaded
  2. A mystery (new writers might not know what this is)
  3. Eagerly anticipated

My thoughts fall on the third option but about four years ago, when I began writing novel fiction in earnest, I had no clue that the books we read from off the shelves are probably in their fifth or seventh rewrite.

Authors do it constantly and for good reason. It not only adds to successive editions of the manuscript, but allows the author to concentrate on engaging their first rough draft.

According to this article from scriptmag.com (a website I am following on my Digg Reader) the first draft is for focusing on structure and story.

All subsequent drafts allow room for replacing contrived moments, trimming unnecessary ones, fleshing out character, improving scene transitions, and making the generic specific.

Below I show an example of the last one, which is pulled from the scriptmag article.

“In Jim Uhls’ early draft of Fight Club, he used the following description:

The speaker breaks down, WEEPS UNCONTROLLABLY. Jack watches.

Uhls later replaced it with:

The speaker breaks down and WEEPS UNCONTROLLABLY. Jack is riveted. He barely breathes.
“Jack watches” can be interpreted in any number of ways, but the latter description is exponentially more evocative and communicates a clearer message to the reader.”
The rough draft of the first write allows for low-stakes, fast-paced writing. This is needed when trying to finish a story. I have started way too many stories upon which I did not push my diligence. Momentum stopped when it should have kept rolling, and I ceased writing.
So if you’re starting a story, remember this.
“Write it all. Write the good, write the chintzy. Just. Keep. Going. The best draft will be created later.”
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Featured Image: Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire by Ilya Repin
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