You’ve finished the script! Congratulations! You are already ahead of many writers out there who haven’t yet completed anything. Pat yourself on the back and take a victory lap around your computer.
Now, get ready to start the process of rewriting the script. It can seem daunting, but doesn’t have to be. Feedback is one of the most important things for any writer. Even the pros have someone they trust who reads all of their material before they send it out in the world.
This is where coverage comes in.
Even if you have your friends and loved ones chime in on your script, getting a trained eye to look at your material is indispensable. But, once you have that crucial feedback, what do you do?
Here’s a quick guide to tackling that rewrite:
- Keep an open mind
Deep down we all just want to read that our writing is amazing. That the script is perfect and it should be made into a movie as is, no rewrites needed. Let me clarify something for you: Nobody gets it right the first time. Everyone has to rewrite their material. Even Oscar winning scripts started as flawed first drafts. So, give yourself permission to be imperfect and don’t expect the reader to tell you how brilliant you are. Be humble and willing to be analytical about what you wrote.
- Recognize when suggestions identify problems in your script
If there’s a suggestion made to replace a character, a plot point, a set-piece, the reader is diagnosing an issue. You don’t necessarily need to take the suggestion as stated, but you do need to take a look at that element and rethink.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
Once you’ve finished a draft, odds are you’ve spent weeks, months, or maybe years outlining and structuring scenes a certain way. Once you get feedback, you might start seeing how a different structure, changing the order of scenes, removing characters or plot points might be beneficial to your story. But if you are stuck in the way you’ve previously written your story, you might think that those changes are simply impossible or too risky, or too big of an undertaking.
Don’t limit yourself. You can always go back to the old draft if you feel like the new approach doesn’t work.
- Don’t be afraid to start over
All writing helps you grow as a person and as writer. A page one rewrite doesn’t mean you failed; it means you are learning. Writing is like working out, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the stronger you get as a writer.
- Take a break from the script
Unless you have an impending deadline, take some time away from the story after you’ve read the feedback. Make some notes of ideas and things to try for the next draft, but allow yourself some distance from the story. It’s easier to be less protective of your material once you’ve had some distance. If it starts to read like someone else wrote it, you’re ready to rewrite with an objective eye.
take a break
- Get to work
A break doesn’t mean abandoning the script forever. Go back to work when you’re ready and finish the next draft. Give yourself a timeline to get it done. You can do it!
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Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.