I’m rewriting from three script readers notes. I can’t believe how much my screenplay has morphed from the first draft. I’m determined to get it right. My goal is to complete my rewrite by the end of this week. Has anyone else done six rewrites?
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We wrote from the time we finished our first draft, after two days in a bedroom eating pizza and drinking Red Bull, to the day we finished shooting our final scene. You are always writing and even after that we wrote the shooting script after the final editing for subtitles. It's a monster of work but if you love it you never want it to stop.
I really love it. I won’t stop until it’s finished. It is a monster of work, but worth it.
Nine Drafts and still more to go :D
Are you writing a short or feature?
:D Way more than six. Some rewrites involved restructuring, others were tweaks to a character or scene, but when you add them up, the number is high.
Sometimes 15-22, yet, think about them as waves or passes instead of rewrites. For instance, do a pass through your script focusing only on (i) delineating your characters from one another and making sure they each have a compelling arc, think and speak differently (a rewrite). Then do a pass pretending (ii) you are an actor and whether you would want to act the role of a certain character..ie. is there enough substance to attract an A-lister or does the character need to be beefed up (a rewrite)? Then perhaps a pass looking strictly at your (iii) formatting, (iv) structure, (v) plot points... how about a pass (vi) copying and pasting your script into Grammarly. You won't believe how many typos you had (a rewrite). Don't forget a pass on making certain you (vii) display a unique writer's Voice. How about one where you (viii) cut 4 lines down to two lines and two lines down to one? Have you ever (ix) shrunk your pages where you can see ten pages at a time in order to catch the amount of preferable white space your script has or does not have (a rewrite)? A veteran may employ these things innately during their first draft, while a less seasoned writer may actually have to focus on them. Keep in mind, these are different than rewrites ordered by a studio or network.
I like the way you think. I’m now on my 6th wave. You have been very helpful. Thank you.
Vishal, Old Shack is a feature film.
Doesn't matter how many times you rewrite/re-approach it, it'll be a better final product than if there were no rewrites at all. By the time you get near the end of a script, or any project for that matter, your work will always look better compared to where it started. That's when we do go back and reread it and think, "Wow, that can be written way better" or "Oh, it's missing this". Rewrites are inevitable and really, it's self arrogance to think you did it 100% right on the first draft. Besides, in the end, the only one who knows and needs to know how many times you rewrote something, is you. ;) Keep it up!
On number 20 for my first script - now 4 years old. Work on others then come back. Get input. Adapt. Never done.
Keep it up! It's just getting better.
Haha I have done as many as 18 rewrites! but that's part of my weird process. But in a documentary about screenwriters I believe it was Antwone Fisher who shared his experience making his movie of the same name - it took over 100 rewrites! But yeah, the rewrite is a great thing, in my personal opinion. :)
Darla Pelton-Perez It takes as long as it takes. There's no rigid limit to how much you should rewrite. It's whenever you've taken it as far as you feel you can. (I avoid saying "finished" as it's unlikely you'll ever feel this way about your script.) Here if you ever want to talk about your writing, Darla.
Sure. Plenty more than that. If I could pop them out as perfect in the first go of it I'd either be the greatest screenwriter alive, or very delusional :P
M Night Shyamalan said he it took him 5 or 6 drafts before he decided the main character should be dead in the plot, The Sixth Sense.
Quoting Aaron Sorkin in an article I stumbled upon long ago...
"I'd write it to the end and go back and write it all over again, go back and write it all over again, go back and write it all over again. I think I probably wrote, without exaggeration, about twenty drafts of 'A Few Good Men'."
Six yep. Easy. I did 3 for a director just to get funding after it was sold. These can be as big as removing and entire story element or going from a Pandemic (the main story element) to an Environmental disaster.
@Dan Yeah good point. Sixth Sense surprise twist end did it for me and perfectly viable logic if trace each writing step.
Six rewrites & more. Many times; I've lost count on the number of rewrites I've done on some... maybe 20 or more on some over the years.
I do three rewrites. PERIOD. Anymore, I end up with something totally out in left field. The third rewrite is mostly little things. Hey! I'm a screenwriter. I'm doing a rewrite now on a hard copy. Can't wait to start a screenplay from scratch. Screenwriters create; producers bring it to life. They might not agree!
The only thing to fear as you rewrite is this; in ticking all the boxes we are told must be ticked, eg., to do with plot points, rising action, etc, etc, etc, you write out the heart of the piece, you destroy the thing that made you need to sit down to write it in the first place. This 'heart' is the reason only you could tell this story. Hold onto that, or it's just another ok screenplay. Good luck.
I think of new drafts as the products of refinement, not rewriting. Keeping the quibblesome perfectionist at bay can be a challenge at times, and sooner or later, a work must be considered "done enough."
I"ve done 38.
Philip Sedgwick thanks for sharing that Sorkin quote! I will admit, that is exactly how I approach screenwriting so I feel slightly validated today that an award-winning screenwriter does it similarly!! LOL its the little things haha
Yup- 5 before ANYONE sets eyes on it. Then one of my writing partners. Rewrite. Then 7 members of my writer's Circle. Then a stranger on Coverfly. Then a table read... Darla- play the long games.
Alex Moreno I’m in it until I hear the words, that’s a wrap.
I don't know if you ever heard of this before. They (Brain People lol) say that when you think of something, then and there you have released the thought into the cosmos, the universe. The thoughts are out there floating around for anyone to grasp. Our brains are perhaps wired to the universe and we don't know it. Who knows? We only know a fraction of what is going on. And how much do we use of it?
One day, I was talking to my wife about a fellow I worked with and lived on the long part of the lake. I said to her, 'I wonder what's happening to so and so.' She said, he must be busy. An hour later he shows up! Weird! Do you think my thought floated to him somehow? Does writing, 'that's a wrap' qualify? lol Rewrite your story as many times as you feel comfortable with it. Happy writing.
Tim Bragg Hehe first project.
Claude Gagne Yes, “that’s a wrap” does qualifies. We should all say it together.
When I first started out I didn’t keep count but I’m guessing it took me somewhere between 6 and 12 rewrites before I considered my First Draft was okay to send out. Nowadays it usually takes me about three. I am pretty sick of the script by that time.
I’ve done more than six rewrites. But since I’ve expanded the episodes , it’s like a semi fresh rewrite
Best of luck!
Claude, you bring up a very very interesting side-topic. For some reason, "static electricity" and the build-up of charges that can later be released (blue spark arc between finger and car key entry or doorknob or touching another person) has been an ongoing intense subject these last few days for me. I thought it was leading to perhaps Prana healing, etc, but you bring up an interesting notion that is redirecting me to look at the transfer of the increasingly charging THOUGHTS we have throughout each day. Can these charged electron-based thoughts be transferred through a field to other matter, carrying their information? Why two people (writers) have the same thoughts (script) or someone you've been thinking about suddenly shows up? My apologies for going off-topic but this is fascinating to me. Getting back on-topic, Rewrites = More Charges? lol
I heard through the grapevine that Tesla had an invention on how to draw electricity from the air, atmosphere. Where did the invention go? Maybe perhaps there wouldn't be any money made from that invention. Probably, we are working hard for something we can get for free! Who knows?
Definitely.. I keep rewriting until it's where I want it. It's more about time overall than edits... I like to have a script in a final draft level by 8 weeks or so.
I guess that's why we sleep? We charge up the batteries! hehehe!
When I do rewrites... I never (re)write over the first draft. A save them all separately - Draft 1, 2, 3... What is interesting is once you think you done, say rewrite #10? Is to go back/read all the past 10 drafts and see how your story has changed. Not read all 10 per se. What I do is highlight each new change per draft.
On the topic of showing progress and keeping your motivation between development/drafts/polishing, a powerful way to do this is to simply change your text colour each time you go through the script. Software such as Scrivener does this by default if you use the draft modes. It's really remarkable to see your progress right in front of you.
I'm three years on from starting my screenplay and many coverage reports. There is just one thing I've got to fix before it will be ready to go and it will take time to do. I've left it a long while, so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes and I'm hoping I'll have one of those Eureka, light bulb moments that will help with it's development.
I created three feature screenplays with Jerel. I come up with the idea, he usually writes the screenplay, and I -- often with two or three readers I trust -- do revisions. Draft...Draft. Depend on what 'qualifies' for an extra draft. I could easily say I personally did thirty on "The Gavel", but I could just as easily say I only did five. It doesn't really matter, when it's the best version it can be, you're finished.
Final Draft has revision mode, easy to track new drafts. Every new draft means another step deal is completed - money into a writer’s pocket. Good to practice now.
One should also be careful of too many rewrites... Don't lose focus on your core premises/story.
Oh I've projects like that where I change a character arch and that morphs into a page 1 rewrite, followed by a few more rewrites. The story just has it's own ideas of where it wants to go so I follow.
Doesn't surprise me. I've gotten feedback from 3 contests and one studio exec, and that will launch me into an extensive 3rd rewrite. My cousin a producer said just keep grinding, "there's a screenplay in there somewhere."
A rewrite is when you finish your screenplay and go back make some changes to it.
Tim. Thank god. I was wondering why someone who has been doing this for a while would ask that. Good thing I don't write comedies:) However a lot of people here don't seem to know the difference between a rewrite and a new draft.
Wish you luck! I used to dread rewrites, but I actually grew to love them!
If your script hasn't undergone at least six rewrites, chances are you can still make it a lot stronger. That's been my experience. I would not dare to guess how many rewrites a typical script of mine goes through before I'm happy with it. Good luck!
Interesting post. Asks a question... Where/what do you mainly concentrate your rewrite on? Me, mainly on dialogue. My 1st draft is normally off the nose - Then I clean it up. (excuse the pun ~ clean the nose)
Barry. After I finish writing a screenplay I go back and cut out extra words. Then I listen to it and rewrite it so it will read better. Then I copy it into a Word Document to check the spelling and grammar . Then I send it to my editor and while she is checking for typos, spelling and grammar I go through the script and fix any scene headings and scene sub-headings. When I get the script back I fix anything she found. Then I send it to my agent and if she reads it and sees something wrong she lets me know. If I agree I fix it and if I don't I won't.
I've lost count on how many times I've rewritten my first script, but I do know that it was more than six! Since then, my rewrite ratio has been 1:4 and I expect it to get bigger as I keep hustling.
I am lucky to get a 2nd rewrite completed. Lol!
WOW! I'm on rewrite #3 of my historical fiction. You're right, you learn so much about your story from notes and a page oner. It's a bit exhausting waiting and waiting for the picture to come in to full focus. But when it does the thing flows like water.
FOR ACT 2 I RENTED A HOTEL ROOM AND STARTED SMOKING.
IT WORKED. BUT STILL REWRITING....BACK FROM THE GRAVEYARD
My first feature was 18 drafts. Since then, a ton of classes, lots of scripts, exercises, and now I feel much more confident with my 3rd and 4th draft compared to 14 years ago. - I'm currently waiting on notes before my draft 4 of my current script and outlining another while I wait.
Six rewrites, no. Four, well five now with the one I am planning to send in for a critique. And three with most of them...When I rewrite, it's more of just reading through it as if an actor would, which then includes also listening to how it sounds. Eliminating repetitive patterns, cutting out dead space or energizing it. Lastly, I make sure I'm not being too tedious or ordering someone around.
Yes yes and YES! I can't tell you how many of my scripts I've put down and picked up 6 or 7 times rewriting the story or the concept. Just this morning I was working on a narration on one of my scripts and I literally rewrote it 6 or 7 times! It's just 1 of those things as writers we just had this obsession of getting it right!
I think it's kind of an ever changing process. I'll go back to something I wrote a few weeks ago and usually think of a new line or new take on things. If you start counting it'll just get in the way. Just write, then write more, then write again...
Define 'Rewrite' as you would consider it. Some people make changes and call the script a rewrite. Other's start from scratch and have many iterations...many starts from scratch. Be curious to know how deep you dove into the rabbit hole.