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REVISING AND RENOVATING
The adage goes writing is rewriting.
That is the painful truth. My writing partner, Chris Keller, and I finished our second draft of our animated movie script "Hark & Harold: Christmas Crisis". Yay! It's a family animated movie. The ink is barely dry on it, but it's way too long for a screenplay... the script should be about 90 pages and we came in at 131.
Yikes. It's not a novel... how did we manage to write so much?
The funny thing is it seems lean and like nothing can possibly go, but of course, that's never the case with screenwriting -- or any writing. Something can always go. Lines can be trimmed. Scenes shortened. Those precious moments don't hold up on the fifth reading -- so out comes the red pen.
But with feedback due soon from trusted readers, we will slash and delete scenes, dialogue and action descriptions. The story is solid, the characters memorable, lines funny -- but the overall structure can be firmed up and plotted more efficiently.
The goal with Hark & Harold is to capture the reader and gets this script sold AND PRODUCED. It's hard for busy Hollywood folks to sit down and read your stuff -- (I have a ton of unread books, articles and scripts on my desk that I keep meaning to get to -- but time flies by, weeks disappear and the calendar flashes by. Is that the same with you?)... so imagine some hot shot reader or producer with a stack of scripts, getting yours to add to the pile.
Is it worth the time?
A first or second draft coming in long is okay, but don't send it out to the pros until it's at its "fighting weight". Lean. Fit. Ready. Nothing drives agents and Hollywood readers crazier than getting scripts with the writer noting "I know this script needs work, but hey, waste your time and read it anyway."
Don't disrespect the professional willing to open the door for your work. Be ready.
We have to make sure the script is as ready as it can be. Of course, once someone wants to buy it -- they will change it or make revisions galore -- but it's still important to present yourself as a professional writer.
You wouldn't sell your house by calling up a top realtor and saying "Come on by, my place is a mess and needs repairs and a new roof, but check it out anyway."
Good luck on that sale.
Same goes with any writing project. Present it only when it's ready to be shown. Not a moment sooner... or we blow the opportunity.
Carolina and I are currently renovating our New York apartment -- and it reminds me of rewriting. Every time we're finished with one room -- we see where changes can still be done, getting rid of this and that, eliminating clutter, discovering less is more, etc. It's the same with scripts.
So spring cleaning continues here at home... and soon, spring cleaning on our Christmas script so that it comes in 30 pages or more less.
Writing is rewriting. No kidding.