Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

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  • Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

    It's inevitable. I finish a script, sit down to punch up/edit scenes and before I know it the story is headed a different way. Aaaagh! Disssaaaapppoointed!

    There's always a million and one ways to take a scene. Any tips on editing the draft without rewriting half the script over and over again?

  • #2
    Re: Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

    Plan your rewrites.

    Be very clear about what you're trying to do, as specifically as you can.

    Before setting fingers to keys, figure out how you're going to accomplish that.

    And then JUST make those changes.

    You will invariably get other ideas while doing this. Note them, but don't make them. Instead, repeat the process: figure out what you're trying to do (perhaps subconsciously) with those changes, and plan how to make that happen effectively.

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    • #3
      Re: Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

      Thank you, Ronaldinho.

      That is something I don't do and will try. It's fun to let the characters take a path of their own, but you end up going in circles. I appreciate your input, thanks!

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      • #4
        Re: Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

        What's the purpose of the rewrite? If the story works, it doesn't need rewriting. If it doesn't work - that would be the purpose of the rewrite.

        I do a series of rewrites: first one is story and structure related so that the later ones aren't rearranging chairs on the Titanic. After Story and structure are under control, I might do a rewrite for the protagonist... and then a rewrite for each character's dialogue to make sure each is different and consistent. I might also do a scene punch up - making each scene better. And a rewrite the chops off heads and tails of scenes that slow things down. For me, if I can focus on one thing, I won't get lost. On an assignment it's different because they have notes on what needs to be addressed, so that's what I focus on.

        - Bill
        Free Script Tips:
        http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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        • #5
          Re: Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

          Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
          What's the purpose of the rewrite? If the story works, it doesn't need rewriting. If it doesn't work - that would be the purpose of the rewrite.

          I do a series of rewrites: first one is story and structure related so that the later ones aren't rearranging chairs on the Titanic. After Story and structure are under control, I might do a rewrite for the protagonist... and then a rewrite for each character's dialogue to make sure each is different and consistent. I might also do a scene punch up - making each scene better. And a rewrite the chops off heads and tails of scenes that slow things down. For me, if I can focus on one thing, I won't get lost. On an assignment it's different because they have notes on what needs to be addressed, so that's what I focus on.

          - Bill
          Bill speaks truth...
          Never let the competition know what you're thinking... and never tell the unseen masses your story idea.

          -- Rule 85, Ferengi Rules of Acquisition (updated by cmmora)

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          • #6
            Re: Tips on Rewriting w/o changing original story?

            Originally posted by McWriterson View Post
            It's inevitable. I finish a script, sit down to punch up/edit scenes and before I know it the story is headed a different way. Aaaagh! Disssaaaapppoointed!

            There's always a million and one ways to take a scene. Any tips on editing the draft without rewriting half the script over and over again?
            I haven't had my rewrites stray off the spine of the story, I think because that's the goal of my first draft-- to execute the outline and establish a strong spine. I've also learned to write the first draft as lean as possible to allow for rewrites. It's easier to add than take away.

            When I rewrite, it's based on notes from other writers I respect (and myself) and I address the ones that align with the story 'vision.' Let's face it, there are people who give notes without consideration to the writer's vision and offer notes as to the "story they would write."

            With rewrites it's important to understand why something needs revision-- to focus on that and only that and not allow the voice of the characters to stray into uncharted territory. Keep scenes that must be in the movie or something important will be lost. Strip scenes down to only what moves the story forward and it will help keep you from wandering.

            What you may be experiencing is that you've written several themes and imply more than one possibility-- in which case you need to chose one. For example, the script I just finished had two main themes that were fighting for attention: "control" and "fear and hope." I ran a pass where I took out all references to the 'control' and rewrote scenes to emphasize "hope."

            Also consider the note behind the note. Sometimes it's because what's clear in our minds is not being laid down clearly on the page, and the note itself is really just about that. Clarity.

            I, too, do many of the same passes that Bill mentions.

            Before I start a rewrite, I read the notes, and make a bullet point list of all aspects that need to be addressed. Then I check them off as I do them. They usually are all over the place and making a change in one scene requires others to change. It can feel daunting, but I have my outline and my task list front and center to keep me focused on what needs to be done.

            Once that's completed, I print a new copy and read through with a red pen and mark any changes or new ideas to make the story more emotional. This is a later revision where I might catch typos, missing words in dialogue, slug line problems, continuity issues, etc.

            Then I check those off as I make the changes in the script. Then I send it out again...

            Not sure any of that will help you, but good luck.

            FA4
            "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
            Hollywood producer

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