WHEN DO I KNOW I’M FINISHED? PART TWO

April 16, 2012

You have completed the script/novel checklist from Part One.  You have polished it more than your mother’s good silverware.  You are finally ready to let it go out into the world.

BUT… 

It is still not fit to send to agents, producers, managers, publishers, and studio people.

It’s not ready?  I’ve done all the work.  It’s a great story. The dialogue is crackling.  Why can’t I launch it into the world now?

So far only your eyes have been made contact with your novel/script.   You need another pair of eyes to read it. You want to send out your absolute best effort.  You don’t get a second chance.

  • Story points you think are clear are incomprehensive to another pair of eyes.
  • The great speech you wrote reads like a long boring lecture to another reader.
  • What you thought is a great twist ending is telegraphed on page twenty.
  • You used “your” when you meant “you’re” like fifty times.  You used the word “like” in an annoying way one thousand times.

Whom do you let read it?

  • Friends?  Only if you want them to say, “It’s great I can’t wait to see it up on the big screen.  Or, I don’t know what to wear to your first book signing.”   Hmm, no real feedback there.
  • Family?  Only if you want them to ask, “Is this what you’ve been working on instead of doing more important things around the house?”  Not much help there either.

Here’s whom you should let read it:

  • Your trusted fellow screenwriters or script/novel consultants.  They are familiar with the techniques of writing screenplays or novels; story, structure and format.  They know how to give proper criticism, “Here’s where it wasn’t working for meThe main character never changesThis should be an O.S. not a V.OThe second act drags.  What does your main character really want?

If you’re getting feedback from more than one source, look for consistent notes and criticisms.  They are most likely true.  Make those changes.  Read it again.  It’s ready for your final polish.  Read it again.

It’s ready to be sent out but I can’t let it go!

More excuses: “There’s just one more adjustment I need to make.  I don’t think my opening and closing images work.  The All Is Lost moment needs to be stronger.  I think it will be better if her best friend is French.”  

Question:  What is holding you back?  Answer: FEAR.   “What if no one likes it?”  “If I don’t get any positive responses I’ve been wasting my time.”

All writers have those fears.  You’ve done the work.  It is ready.  It is the best you could do.  It has your unique voice, originality and story. Yes, it’s finally time to send your precious baby off.  You’ve put all you could into bringing it up; nurturing it, letting it mature into a good honest full rounded script/novel.

YOU ARE FINISHED!  SEND IT OUT!……   And start the next project immediately. Good luck!

Any excuses you like to share?  Leave a comment below or email me at: Stephen@rewritedr.com.


Using “Beat” is boring. Give it a life.- ReWriteDr tip

September 2, 2011

A spec screenplay is a reader’s experience.   When you use the word, “beat” that experience becomes boring.  A “beat” is just a place holder when nothing happens.  Gee, that’s exciting to read.  Using a gesture or movement can actually add to your scene.  It can show character or tension.  For instance:

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (beat) I want to talk about us.

Examples of substituting “beat”.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (smiles) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (looks down) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (slaps the table) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (takes a deep breath) I want to talk about us.

Each substitution of “beat” added character or tension to the scene.

Should you never use “beat”?  95% of beats should be an action.

A “beat” shouldn’t be a pause in life; it should have a life in your script.


ReWriteDr’s favorite books on screenwriting.

July 15, 2011

There are plenty of screenwriting books out there.  Everyone one has their favorites.   Certain books seem to speak to you just at the right time.  However, over the years the following four books are the ones I’ve gone back to again and again.

1.  Syd Field’s – SCREENPLAY is still the holy book when it comes to structure.  It’s been around forever but it’s still relevant today.  It should be the first book any new writer reads.

2.  Linder Seager’s – HOW TO MAKE A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT is excellent with character development and the rewriting process.

3.  Blake Synder’s – SAVE THE CAT, (The last screenwriting book you’ll ever need), isn’t quite that but written in a  causal conversational manner, it reinvents the Beat Sheet.  Plus it renames 10 different genres according to what they need to accomplish and how your script should fall into one of them.  It’s a new way of thinking about screenwriting.

4.  Lastly, William M. Aker’s – YOUR SCREENPLAY SUCKS! – is a great checklist after you’re done a draft and before you send it out, besides being just a fun read.

What are your favorites?


ReWriteDr: SREENWRITING TIP

April 15, 2010

When introducing a new character give their age.  MATT 25, SUSAN, mid-twenties, SAM early nineties.  Make a hard decision and commit to it.  Don’t make the reader stop and have to figure it out.  Sometimes it’s obvious, but not always.  Don’t take the chance.


ReWriteDr: SCREEN WRITING TIP:

April 10, 2010

You can’t tell us what’s happening inside the character’s head. You can only describe what action the character is doing.  We must understand what is going on by the action lines and dialogue only. That’s your job as a writer. It’s hard.  Billy glances at his brother remembering when they were little. Inside Head. – Re-worked: Billy glances at his brother and smiles.  Joan realizes that she is not the woman she thought she was. Inside Head.  – Re-worked: Joan places herself in front of the mirror and shakes her head.  Marty knows the second he turns the knob, the bomb would go off. Inside Head. – Re-worked: Marty reaches for the wires but retracts his hand.  He takes a deep breath.      –  If you use the words, thinks, realizes, knows – you’re inside the character’s head.  Get out of there.