Screenwriting : Rewrite: Dreaded or Not? by David Levy

David Levy

Rewrite: Dreaded or Not?

I wrote this script early last year. The concept has great potential. The script however, not up to par. Wrnt back to rewrite it eagerly so many times it had way too many band aids on it. After socking it away for a bit I am just as excited to rewrite it now as I was initially putting it down on paper. Does everyone hate the rewrite process or do you embrace each draft as you do the first? side note: Some here know my vision limitations. My specialist told me Friday it doesn't matter how close I sit to my computer screen. The old line about "sitting too close to the screen will damage your vision" doesn't hold water. Great news moving forward!

Richard Allis

I like the rewrite/polishing process much better than the first draft. The first draft I'm trying to remember everything (not just the story, but the pacing, milking the conflict etc.) After that, most stuff is down on paper and I can concentrate on improving the script.

Eoin O'Sullivan

Writing is an iterative process. You have learn to let go of whatever needs to be changed for the good of the script.

Sue Lange

I don't mind the rewrite process as long as I still like the story. If I'm bored with the story, I prefer to just move on.

Ally Shina

I love rewrites more than the first draft... it's like the first time I rode a bike without the training wheels, it's empowering.

Sue Lange

If you wait long enough -- a couple of months or so -- and you've forgotten the story, it might surprise you. Stun and amaze, even. That's quite fun.

Shawn Speake

I dread the rewrite when I'm not sure how I'm going to crack the story in the next draft. Coverage on the previous draft helps a lot.

Sue Lange


Debbie Croysdale

Good thought from Pb, I've done that with a few projects. Shelved them for a while, then got them out at later dates for a final rinse. It's easy to over think current scripts, and I occasionally feel the characters have become "glued" . A fresh perspective aids the confidence to cut out previously unnoticed dead wood, and a maverick way forward for the plot, aswell as helping to refine characters.

Anthony Moore

I see editing as a necessary evil, like a surgery where bad or weakened tissue is replaced with healthy, stronger transplants. I'm doing the same thing with one of my screenplays right now. It has gone through several transformations. So much so that it bears little resemblance to the first draft. The original concept lives on but some characters and scenes have died on the editing block while new fresh ones have sprung up. Even the original hero is now a minor player, replaced by the very villain that was trying to kill him in the last three iterations.

Debbie Croysdale

Your right Anthony, sometimes the characters end up telling the writer what to do!

David Levy

Sometimes a draft feels like a piece of carbon paper used 30 times over. There are some characters that jump off the page so much the story writes itself. It may not happen in the first few drafts but once their voices get louder, at times I do not want to stop writing what they're telling me or showing me.

Shane M Wheeler

Usually I hate it, sometimes not. It depends. If I feel like I'm making progress, it's great, because I can see it getting better each pass and feeling like it's become something greater. On the other hand, sometimes it's like building a lego castle, only to find out you were supposed to be building a pirate ship: it all needs to be torn down and start over again. That can be very frustrating.

Elisabeth Meier

It depends on how often I rewrite, just as you mentioned, David. Sometimes you just rewrote it and then someone else critics this draft so you have to go over it again. That is what I hate. When I put it away for a while and then read it again, it is fun again to make corrections. I try to avoid rewriting too often, because this can lead to new knots in the story. There is a time when you have to be confident and give the story a chance in competitions or pitches. If it fails you still have the chance to rewrite it again then.

Jim Fisher

The first draft is a brain dump, just thinking. Re-writing is the essence of writing.

Debbie Croysdale

Great expression Jim. Lol.

Conrad Sun

Jim said it. Writing is rewriting, dude. And this means not being afraid to take apart your script. Think of it like a rubix cube. You have 4 out of six sides the same color, but you can't complete the rest of the cube without reworking those four sides.

Phil Parker

Once I've figured out what each of my character's points of view are on the world, that helps give them their voice, THEN I enjoy the rewrite process because their actions will be true and drive the story in the right direction. Sometimes it takes a draft or two to get those voices right, though. Best of luck!

Leona McDermott

What Jim said. I call my first drafts "word vomit!". Get in all on the page then start to shape it.

Mike Romoth

I love the rewrite process. It's like watching the flowers come up after you've done all the work of preparing the beds and planting. The rewrite process is where you get to fine-tune the engine that goes "putt putt putt" into the engine that goes "ROAR! I"M GOING TO EAT THE WORLD!"

Melonie Zarko

The rewrite process is brand new to me. I don't know how I feel about it yet. However, I find myself re-writing and editing my script often. When I have this one ready, and submit it to the screenplay contests - I guess I'll find out it my constant editing and rewriting was detrimental to my creative process, or beneficial.

Brian McAndrew

I still have some dread I'm still working on a script that I've been working on since 2009.

Cherie Grant

I dread the rewrite, but it still feels a little good too because it means I've finished the story and it's reached the page count minimum. Rewriting means concentrating even harder.

CJ Walley

For me there's a vast chasm between knowing something's wrong with something that will probably never get made and knowing how to fix something that's going to get made. The former is daunting and feels like going in circles and the latter is motivating and feels like progress. There are simply many shades to rewriting. The most dangerous trap to fall into is writing feature specs, soliciting subjective opinions, letting self doubt creep in, and then hopelessly rewriting to satisfy peers. That will generate nothing but anxiety in the long term - no matter who much you religious recite the various axioms.

Howard Johnson


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