S-E-X Tips for Screenwriters: Rewriting – When Is Enough Enough?

Dear Doctor Paige,Dr. Paige Turner Talks Rewriting Ailments

I feel I can turn to you for help with my problem. Everything was perfect until I started rewriting.

You see, my script and I have been together for a while now. A long while.

At first, the mere thought of the concept thrilled me. It was intoxicating to run my eyes over the words on the page. Then the sheer delight of the first draft. Followed by the turn-on of submitting my baby to contests with high hopes for our future.

Then came the rewriting. And more rewriting. And yet another draft.

Eventually, that rush disappeared.

The excitement was gone.

Taking a long, hard look at my script, I grew terrified that it might be, well… boring.

Simple.

Ordinary.

Predictable.

Stuck with a bland story, I felt desperate to recapture the magic.

I gave the hero a dog. Then a love interest. With a falling-in-love montage. I gave the bad guy more henchmen and the henchmen bigger guns. I created a massive car chase. I added explosions. Then aliens. Then exploding aliens.

Now, I just feel confused.

Can you help me?

The Big Bang

 

Dear Banger,

In my professional opinion, you are indeed suffering from a serious condition. You have all the symptoms:

Your vision is impaired.

Your memory is clouded.

You’ve spent so much time cozied up with your script, you’ve developed a fever. That high temp left you limp – no longer turned on by what got you hot and bothered about your story in the first place.

If you’re feeling confused, your readers are certain to be baffled.

Your passion for your story is still there, it’s just your confidence in what made it great in the first place that has vanished.

Think of it like this:

In the beginning, you chose a big, beautiful pine tree. The strong trunk supported lush, green branches. The air was fragrant with its scent.

It was a good Christmas tree.

A Rewriting Disaster: "Too Much Tinsel On Your Tree"Then, you began decorating it. Adding special touches to ensure that your tree was one of a kind.

First, it was twinkly lights. Nice. Then tinsel. Some shiny ornaments. An angel for the top. Plus, you must have a shining star. So an angel on top of a star! Construction paper chains and strings of popcorn and cranberries for a homey touch. And a big red bow that played “Jingle Bells” when anyone got near it. Then more tinsel so there weren’t any bare spots.

You’ve crossed the line from “decorative” to “disaster.”

The more time aspiring writers spend rewriting their script, the more likely they are to become convinced that their original idea alone is not enough to satisfy us. Uncertain, they layer on more and more provocative detail in hopes of attracting our eye.

In the words of famed action movie producer Joel Silver, “I want an explosion the size of Cleveland.”

We all love fireworks baby, but you need some well played build up to truly enjoy the grand finale.

You are suffering from the syndrome I call “Too Much Tinsel On Your Tree.” Many new writers fall prey to this disorder in the rewriting process. Often, the source of the infection is typing “Fade In” without an outline in place. You know what they say sweetie, “No prior planning, no happy ending.”

The beauty of your original story is lost because you buried the allure of the concept under heaps of distraction. Your audience is likely lost too.

Stop embellishing!

Strip that tree bare, and get back to the charm and elegance of your original idea.

Add a few carefully chosen, distinctive touches that work with your story to enhance its natural appeal. One at a time.

You don’t need razzle-dazzle to captivate an audience. A hot idea, strong writing, and enthralling storytelling will sweep us off our feet every time.

That’s where true, enduring romance will blossom.

Dr. Paige Turner

 

 

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  1. Ask a Talent-of-Colossal-Proportions Script Consultant! | Maximum Z - October 28, 2014

    […] in so much that we simply don’t know what’s going on. Diagnosis of that syndrome can be found here in a guest blog by my dear friend, Dr. Paige Turner, who steps in and answers writers’ sticky […]

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