I recently did a big rewrite on a script. It was for a deadline, which concentrates the mind – and led to several all-nighters working on it.
By the end, the script was 20 PAGES shorter. Yes, I’d fixed the awful dialogue, strengthened the characterisations (hopefully), all that stuff. But the biggest thing I did was prune things out.
Here’s what I took out (btw, the best thing about removing the crap is that you can add in more good stuff!)
· Dialogue – some not needed at all. If there’s any way of saying it without using dialogue, do that. But I also cut it down. Sometimes a character says two sentences where they only need to say one.
· “Like, So” - People will also sometimes say conversational stuff in my scripts like, well, “like”. It’s useless - take it out! This has a nice, punchy impact on your dialogue. Remember, movie characters are much more articulate than us.
· Description – this is one of my biggest screenwriting sins. I write paragraphs of description, most of it redundant. I pruned this right down.
· “Is doing” syndrome – I’m always doing this. We open on Jake walking down a street. No we don’t! Jakes walks down a street. That’s it.
· Repetition – if anyone mentions an important detail anywhere in the script, that detail should not come up again. We got it the first time. I’m a terror for this sin too.
You may find, after doing this, that the script’s a lot shorter. Maybe too short. But that’s the true length without all the rubbish in it.
Now you can go in and develop your characters, expand the plot slightly and overall construct a much better script. Best of luck!