Screenwriting : Writing or re-writing: What's your favourite? by Chas Franko Fisher

Chas Franko Fisher

Writing or re-writing: What's your favourite?

I hate first drafts. I don't call them vomit drafts, I call them wisdom teeth drafts. Like I'm crowbarring ideas out of my skull. I find it a painful process because - while I have the plot outlined and I know my characters - there is a lot of detail that I only discover in the writing of pages. But I LOVE re-writing. The pain is gone. It is just a matter of finding problems, fixing them and making every bit of what's there the best it possibly can be. It is so freeing and productive. I know of writers who are the complete opposite of me. Love the freedom of writing, hate the editing process. Whos in which camp?

Kerry Douglas Dye

I couldn't pick one. I've had some pretty brutal rewrites, agonizing over solving a problem, when every solution seems to break ten other things in the script. It's like you've built a house of cards and now you realize you need to squeeze in a bocce ball. But I agree that there are great pleasures... finding an elegant solution to a problem or taking something flat and making it sing.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau
TeamRewrite! Coming out with a first draft is the worst... okay, not the worst because I love writing, but rewriting is so much better. Especially when you finally connect two things together that's been eating at you for days. Ahhh, what a great feeling. The "OF COURSE!" moment...
Beth Fox Heisinger

Love the rewrite! Putting down that first draft is harder for me -- however, I'm already rewriting as I go. Once I have something completed, I love to chip away at it; work out problems; polish. Diablo Cody compares her over-grooming of her scripts to that of a cat with OCD. ...I think that pretty much captures the obsessive tendencies of screenwriters. lol! ;)

Lisa Clemens

Rewriting is not starting from scratch any more than a re-shoot on a film is reshooting the whole movie! I know, I did the rewrite for the re-shoot of Case #13! I was asked to change a few scenes because it's not going to be entirely found footage now, and I was asked to write a few new scenes. But I did not start from a blank screen other than one scene which was then inserted into the existing script. The reshoots will start soon and they are not filming the whole movie over again, I assure you!

Gigi M. Green

Rewriting. I love to really dig in. My first drafts are always horrible:)

Mark Sanderson

I agree Chad, I don't like the word "vomit draft." If you're ever hired to write a screenplay for a producer there is NO vomit draft but a finely tuned machine called the first draft created from a tight story treatment. I tell writers to start now making their first draft as good as possible to train themselves now for when they do finally get hired for assignment work. And let's face it, 90% of the jobs are assignment jobs and not spec sales. Hollywood studios only buy just over 100 specs a year and last year they released 692 movies domestically in theaters. I agree the fist draft is like pulling teeth or getting punched around, but yes the rewriting is the best part, making it better and better. I just completed the 3rd draft of my latest assignment and it's the best yet.

Kenneth David Swenson

I too find the first drafts of things to be somewhat "disposable'. That doesn't make it any less valuable; it just means that you go into the process realizing that the "raw dump" of information is precisely that. I don't care how OCD as a researcher or a writer you are; there are always going to be new and different things to discover as the process unfolds. If you trust in the humanity of your characters; even if they're not human, and you have crafted them well. Every once and a while these characters might give you more clues if you get stuck.

Richard Allis

I like re-writing better. Finding the mistakes and polishing stuff up. But I like writing just fine too. What I don't like is starting a brand new project. I feel like I'm back to square one again, finding characters' voices etc. . . even if I think my new idea is great. But once I get going on it a little bit, I'm fine.

Brad Harrod

Re-writing is where I find my story and characters. The first draft is just the idea of the story getting thrown down. Most of the time I don't have an ending in sight when I write. I let the characters lead me to it. So the first draft is more a blueprint of the things. Then its time to go back and sharpen everything.

Thedia Samara

For me it depends on the story. Some scream and others whisper, the latter are a little easier. The screamers tend to be more intricate which makes them more attractive in the re-writing phase. The whispers already know where they are going so the writing is a little less challenging.

Kerry Douglas Dye

I outline and prepare a lot... I still typically write a minimum of ten drafts (depending on how you define "draft") before I consider myself "done". I don't think preparation and rewriting are mutually exclusive. I imagine most diligent writers do both.

Chas Franko Fisher

To everyone who has contributed to this thread: thank you. I was wanting to get a feel for the gamut of writing approaches. But I have noticed something about Stage 32 threads and it troubles me. They very easily become didactic. Where amateur writers tell other amateur writers how they MUST write. That there is a right and a wrong way. You NEVER hear pro writers do this. They say what works for them, but they know that it may only work for them. I know writers who deliberately choose not to outline because thinking about a story in the abstract can - for them - kill the detail, the magic of what makes their work sing. Other writers have to outline every word before starting. Neither approach (or somewhere in the middle where I sit) is right or wrong unless it is stopping you from finishing. I don't believe in Working Smart for screenwriting. It's about the result. It may take one writer one draft to get where it takes another writer 10 drafts. This may never change and shouldn't. What is important is the end result. So please share your methods. But don't tell people how to do theirs. It gives you away as an amateur or as someone looking to sell something to amateurs.

Chas Franko Fisher

Oh, and while I agree that outlining leads to less drafts, it also has stopped me dead in projects. It took me diving into pages and loving the process to finish it. I would rather have a finished script that requires another draft to be finished than no script at all. Do what works for YOU for THAT project. Every baby is different.

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