Writing is Rewriting
A script can always be better. A screenplay is never done. How many drafts do you have in you? The hard truth is the more drafts you do, the better it will be. One thing writers trying to establish themselves must come to learn: you often have to do more drafts that you ever thought possible! If you think three drafts is a lot, there's still much to learn. When working with writers, (or even on my own material), this is what I seek to accomplish:
Achieve maximum entertainment value and emotion in a premise
Hone and refine the premise itself
Flesh out and define the characters and their arcs
Focus and enrich conflicts
Maximize plot through structure
Examine plot choices
Fine-tune scenes and staging for pace & length
I can guarantee that your work will be improved in all these areas of the craft. Above all, you will come away with a vocabulary for, and an approach to, your future work. And the knowledge that it’s essential to approach a script in layers. You can’t fix everything at once. The first lesson is learning how to “slaughter your babies”—the ideas you most cherish that may not be serving the whole.
Slaughtering Your Babies
This is not a place where you can meet an agent.
It is not a portal to the Industry.
It is not a writing contest.
It is not a shop of readers churning out low-cost coverage.
It is not a “system” to guarantee you success. There is no such thing.
I don’t have a set of rules, or a formula. Writing—and evaluating writing—is subjective. And both are realized by talent, and experience. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know squat, or is lying. If a script is there, if it’s on the page, you just know it.
If it’s not there, my years of experience as writer, reader and producer have taught me how to isolate and articulate where your material needs the work. And more importantly, offer a fix. Is it structure? Definition of character? Pacing? Or story logic? Or some problem unique to the script?
No Negative Notes
That’s the only rule I live by. It’s not helpful just to hear that some aspect of the craft is not working. You have to step up and provide a solution. Otherwise, you’re not much help. My pride exists in the quality and creativity of the solutions I offer. Often, the solutions are many. And if you allow your ego to get in the way, the medicine can be painful. As Shakespeare said in Hamlet over 400 years ago: “The play’s the thing!”