Screenwriting : Need Help!! by Nathan McQuarrie

Nathan McQuarrie

Need Help!!

Hello everyone,

I am looking for what individuals do when it comes to editing their scripts? I am currently editing a script and finding it difficult to get a rhythm that works for me. Does anyone have any suggestions or a list A, B, C, they use when editing their scripts that they find helpful?

Christiane Lange

Well, step one is to comb for spelling and grammatical errors.

Step two, for me anyway, is to shave both dialogue and action lines and assess if I really need ALL the words I put down initially.

I also comb for repetition of phrases, especially if used by different characters.

B A Mason

I second Christiane's response.

And I'll add cutting and combining characters. You don't need an extra abundance of cast-members when half the amount can get your ideas across. Who needs Thor's Warrior's 3 when all you need is the Warrior's 1. Who needs Ocean's 11 when you need maybe Ocean's 5? I'm thinking Bram Stroker's Dracula and it's many extra male leads that contribute next-to-nothing in the story. Etc.

Nathan McQuarrie

Thanks for the advice guys!! I think I enjoy throwing up on the paper but not cleaning up the mess.

Nathan Mccoy

So I STRONGLY recommend... setting the script down for about 2 weeks (if possible). Then re-read it with fresh eyes. As you go through take your time and imagine the characters saying the lines and you'll instantly want to change things.

This becomes your dialogue pass. (try not to worry about scene descriptions, but you will undoubtably stray and work on what ever draws your attention.

Once you've finished that read through/edit. Go back over and makes sure the structure is good: scene headings, parentheticals, phone conversations, off-camera vs voice over, Series of Shots, transitions, etc... Part 1 of Structure Pass

Part 2 of Structure Pass: change your tense. Make the script "Present Tense" alter your scene descriptions and action to present tense and drop those "ing"s.

Put the Script down for another week before moving on.

Re-read the script again and tighten up your dialogue and descriptions, fix typos on this pass.

---Have someone you trust to read it and give feedback (looking for plot holes, and general what they likes/hates... the trick is to try and remain impartial).

Then once you have feedback you can choose to take it or leave it and that is your last two passes (changing the script and then polishing your changes). This puts you at around 7-9 revisions.

Caveat: when you come back to your script like 3 months later, you'll want to change it again. I recommend not. Just let it live/die from there and write something new. You'll learn more with every script you write.

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