A few weeks ago, I gathered all of the short screenplays I’ve written over the years that I believe would make good short films.
In the end, there was around 10 solid scripts that I was happy with.
Next, I sent the list to my producing partner Eric so he could claim the screenplays he would be interested in directing.
From there I was left with a bunch of scripts with no where to go but collect ‘dust’ on my hard drive.
After much thought, I decided to polish a few of them and test them on the competition circuit.
Who knows what could happen right?
It’s a better option than having them lie dormant. (Ironically, one of them is called Dormant.)
I selected two scripts and prepared for the rewrite process.
First up is a horror script I wrote about a year ago. It’s a pretty gruesome tale that’s full of twists.
I’ve always loved horror films and the idea behind the story was to practice writing suspense in preparation for a full length horror screenplay I have planned.
I wanted to enter a variety of festivals so I settled on a family drama I wrote last month. It’s a tragic story but I’m becoming well known (in my circle at least) for building uplifting elements into stories like that.
Two ends of the spectrum. Two very different overall styles.
I went over both of them 4 separate times. I find this system helps for polish work.
- Spelling & Grammar
- Final Read
Here we go…
The first pass is all about story. Does it make sense? Is it original enough? Is it entertaining? Will people relate to the characters? This is obviously my favorite pass because it allow me the chance to ask myself:
What can I do to make the story better?
Next I go back to the beginning and focus on my actual writing style. I look for ways to trim action and eliminate redundant sentences. I try to simplify dialogue and make proper use of white space. This step is crucial because pacing and readability can slow a script way down if not treated properly.
Spelling & Grammar
There’s nothing worse than exporting a PDF file and catching a spelling error. This is a boring step but necessary if you want your screenplay to be taken seriously.
I like to either print out my script or export a PDF so I can edit as I read. This forces me to read the story uninterrupted and truly see what I’ve got. Obviously I have a pen handy for any glaring mistakes but at this point, I shouldn’t have to use it… Right?
Who am I kidding, there’s always 1 or 2 minor tweaks…
I’ve now taken both of my competition ‘candidates’ through this process. I’m extremely proud of them.
The one important lesson I take from this work is this:
You can rewrite and prepare a script all you want. At some point, you have to let it go, send it off and hope your hard work pays off.
The bonus lesson?
If by chance it doesn’t pay off? Work even harder on the next story.