“A finished crappy first draft is better than an unfinished draft”
I read this in a meme on Facebook today. And so it is that I find myself with a finished first draft of my debut screenplay, Summer Solstice (working title), an adult romantic comedy set on Michigan’s Sunset Coast.
I’ll give myself a ‘huzzah!’ for that achievement.
And then, it’s straight into the edits. There are several areas I’m planning to target in my first revisions:
- genre consistency throughout (starting as you mean to go on. i.e. don’t start out with rom com in mind but deliver straight drama)
- comedic tone consistency throughout
- character consistency throughout
- make sure time and space are working properly
- make sure titles are consistent throughout
- ensure names are consistent throughout
- removing redundant description to boost showing and reduce telling (everything has to play visually in a screenplay)
- reduce and remove ‘on the nose’ dialogue (I went to a writing workshop years ago with Canberra author Craig Cormick. He advised us to use description to colour in the peripheries of a scene, rather than listing details head on. I think this advice applies as much to screenwriting as to short story writing)
- get my characters moving – I’ve made heaps of classic first-timer mistakes, like too many phone calls used to move the plot forward. This is not very visual, so therefore stinks in screenplays. From what I’ve understood from my research. One phone call is okay. Two phone calls are stretching the limits. Three? Well, you’d better be a Coen brother or a Tarantino to get away with that shit. So, I have three phone calls. LOL. Time to convert those suckers into face-to-face action.
What other tips do you have for revisions of the first, crappy draft? Apart from being prepared to kill our darlings, that is. I learned that requirement through my short story writing.
The second set of revisions will focus much more on character arcs and make sure they are working and have stayed true to the overarching theme of the screenplay (the *concept*). I will also check that the movie described in the logline and outline is what’s actually delivered in the screenplay.
Third set will focus on length and scene structure. My first draft has come in at 113 pages and I need to get it down to around 95 (or thereabouts), which is pretty standard in the rom-com genre.
Some of my sources for understanding how to edit our little babies include:
Where do you get advice on screenplay editing from?
Image credit: Joseph John, https://pixabay.com/en/lighthouse-sky-sunset-beach-484822/