You’ve heard this many times and no, I’m not about to tell you that this isn’t true. Rewriting is an inherent part of writing, and it can be a very long process, endless even. Just like writing, rewriting should be planned carefully to ensure that the hours invested fructify. Work smart, instead of hard, with these rewriting tips.
1. Rewriting vs. editing.
These are two related, but separate processes, and knowing the difference is key to making rewriting more efficient.
Rewriting entitles changing the core of the story, working on character and story development, structure, and dialogues. Editing is more of a correction process.
Editing consists of fixing formatting errors, grammar and spelling mistakes, and amending scene headers, location, and character names.
When you separate these processes and work on them one at a time you will avoid distractions and get more of your rewrite done. As you rewrite, you can still correct minor errors and typos, as long as it doesn’t take more than a minute or two.
2. Focus on one thing at a time.
As you go through your script, you will find different things that need fixing and you’ll be tempted to fix everything as you go along. However, tunnel vision might be quite more effective than looking at the whole thing all the time.
As you plan your rewriting, select one specific topic (character development, structure, dialogue, etc.) and the time you want to spend on it. Work on both rewriting and editing that topic until you’re happy with it (or your defined time is up). Then move on to the next topic.
Remember, rewriting can take a very long time, so you need to decide how long you want this process to be.
3. Take a break
After working for a long time on your script, you might get overwhelmed and lose perspective, making your rewriting job harder. To prevent this, every time you finish a new draft, take a break. I suggest at least a couple of weeks to leave your script alone. Use this time to move on to other projects or activities.
If you want to keep working on your project, you can use this time to watch similar movies or read screenplays. Although it’s also a good idea to just set it aside.
4. Get help
Feedback during the rewriting phase is very important. It will allow you to see things from a different perspective and explore areas of opportunity that you might have missed.
This feedback doesn’t always have to be professional. You can share your work with friends and family and still get good insight. However, at a certain stage of rewriting, professional help might make the difference towards a completed, polished script.
A great way to get this feedback is through screenwriter groups. These put together people working on screenwriting projects who share their feedback and help brainstorm new ideas. In these groups you will find a safe space to juggle creative thoughts and push you to keep writing.
I organize a couple of these groups, where people from all over the world meet online to discuss their projects. Feel free to contact me for info on them.
Another way of getting professional insight is through a Script Consultant. Check out this other article to learn more about them and what they do.
Rewriting shouldn’t be a burden, creating a plan and following a schedule will make it easier and definitely more enjoyable.
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