You’ve finished your first draft. Congratulations! Now it’s time to analyze what you’ve written and revise it so that it can be its best version.
Go back to the theme/spine of your story. Does every scene reflect the spine?
Consider all the story elements from the storytelling pyramid: Character, inner conflict created by the main character’s want versus need, external conflict, story, plot, and vision. Is there anything you might adjust to strengthen a particular area?
Analyze the structure of your screenplay. Are you hitting all your structural points to their maximum dramatic effect?
Check out this older John August Blog on rewriting. It’s pretty cool!
I like how John August simplifies revising to setting a specific rewriting goal and working to achieve it. Now it’s time for you to make clear goals, develop a plan to achieve them, and activate that plan.
Often it can be really hard to go right into the deep end of the rewriting pool. Here are several really simple tricks writers can do to immediately improve their scripts.
- Delete redundancy. Many times screenwriters will repeat scenes that convey the same emotion or hit on the same plot point. Delete any repetitive scenes.
- Trim the heads and tails of your scenes to provide momentum. Do we really need to see character enter and exit the scene? Do we need to see characters introduce themselves or greet each other? Usually, we do not.
- Round out your secondary, minor characters, to give your script a quick boost. We don’t want characters to feel two-dimensional. Stories tend to come to life when all characters come across as motivated people who live full lives, even when they are off screen!
Down the line—after you’ve finished rewriting and you feel your script is its best version—share it with the world. You have a couple of options. You can produce the script yourself. I strongly encourage you to do so. So much is learned when producing your own film. But more information on this subject will have to be for another workshop.
Option number two involves submitting your script to competitions. Winning a competition can open up networking possibilities. But it’s not a magic bullet. And screenplay contests are pretty pricey. If you’d like to give a try, below are a couple of websites that you can search for competitions. Maybe you can even find a few that are free.
The director Sidney Lumet closes his book Making Movies with the following passage: “My job is to care about and be responsible for every frame of every movie I make. I know that all over the world there are young people borrowing from relatives and saving their allowances to buy their first cameras and put together their first student movies, some of them dreaming of becoming famous and making a fortune. But a few are dreaming of finding out what matters to them, of saying to themselves and anyone who will listen, “I care.” A few of them want to make good movies.”
Best wishes, keep caring, keep finding out what matters, keep making good movies, and stay in touch.
We’re all finished for now. Feel free to ask any questions in the forum.
The son of a snowplow truck driver and a nurse, Kevin Del Principe grew up in Buffalo, New York. He first cut his teeth working as a schoolteacher while also producing plays and publishing poetry. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing for film and to earn his MFA in Screenwriting at the University of Southern California. During his time at USC, Kevin was a finalist for Script Pipeline’s Student Screenwriting Competition. Since graduation, he continues to write, direct, produce, and teach. Kevin currently teaches screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University. He specializes in short screenplay writing, creating online content, feature writing, and rewriting.