The first two things everyone tells you when you start writing screenplays are number one – ‘show don’t tell’ and number two – ‘the real work starts with the re-writes and the editing’.
Well, we finished the first draft of our latest feature film project over two years ago and since then I’ve lost count of the number of rewrites and edits it’s undergone. Obviously, we haven’t been working on it every day since then, but in the past four months hardly a week’s gone by without some work being done on the script – and some weeks it’s been almost every hour of every day!
But here’s the thing . . . the script just keeps getting better.
Now I know that all creative projects reach a point of diminishing returns and the real skill is knowing when you’re there. I can honestly say there have been numerous times during this process when I’ve thought ‘that’s it, this script can’t get any better’ and then our producer has asked for a re-write and what’s emerged has been an improvement.
So, here’s what I’ve learnt. It’s better to do one rewrite too many than one too few . . . oh and keep all your drafts!
I know what you mean about re-writes. I feel like a painter with a finished piece of work, but can’t resist a brush stroke here or a dab or two there. No matter how finished, I feel my work is it will never be complete to me. I expect its the same when you watch your work on screen. I have just completed my masters degree in scriptwriting and can’t wait to get my work out there, hopefully combating that fear of rejection all writers have. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I thought that I was the only one, but now I know I am not alone as far as re-writes go.
Hi Mary – I’m pleased my post resonated with you, writing can be a lonely business!
And don’t worry about rejection, it’s just feedback without notes.