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Page history last edited by Steve 7 years, 6 months ago

My editing process is to read and analyse, compare your analysis with other people's feedback, and then solve the biggest problems.


When I'm reading a script for a redraft, I'm hoping that I'll be fully absorbed by it. If not, then what I need to focus on is getting an understanding of the big picture.



I have to remember: I want the script to be good. But it can't match the ideal in my head, and it isn't perfect. 


OBSERVATION: I'm instilling this first re-read with these mystical properties - that it'll give me insights that I'll never get again. That's ridiculous and puts too much pressure on the process.


NB: A full script analysis takes at least 2.5 days


Initial approach to the script



Read the script aloud. It gives me a clear idea of why scenes aren't working. And a clear idea of when they are.


At the moment, I'm leaning towards just marking the script's problem points with an 'X'. I'm still undecided about whether I should make fuller notes on the script as I go through it. It can take me out of being absorbed by the script - but if I want to make a note, then I'm already un-absorbed.


POSSIBILITY: The first read is silent, but I create a .wav file where I dictate my observations into it.



After the first read



Going for a long walk and jotting down thoughts about the script as they come to me is a good way of organising my memories of what needs to be improved.


I used a mind-map, and drew four spokes (one for each act) and then placed each memory on the appropriate spoke.


After these, I can organise these memories into notes.


I can have a long bath and a re-read of the script - where I jot down more ideas, observations and suggestions. The script's usually more enjoyable this time round and the flaws seem obvious (at least the obvious flaws do).




Next step is to go through all the feedback and the marked up script and see if there are any global problems (affecting the whole story) that need to be resolved before I start rewriting. If not, I'll just go scene by scene - which has worked well for me in the last few drafts.


- write down (on one page) the fundamentals of what needs to be done with this draft, based solely my memories of reading it. I will not refer to either the script or my notes during this process.


- tidy up my more in-depth notes, which will involve comparing them to the .wav file that I dictated, and possibly simplifying or categorising my observations.


- re-read the script.

Make the Engagement chart then.


Engagement Chart


AKA a Whammo chart


(Idea: I should set up another folder for each script, to store all of my Engagement Charts, so I can easily find them and compare between drafts.)



So, I've just drawn up the chart for how engaged I was during this read.




Brainstorm solutions for problems


The purpose of all this reading and thinking is to ID problems. Then choose which ones have to be solved. Some problems aren’t worth it; that temptation to make the script ‘perfect’ – that’s just be a way to avoid finishing. Next, each problem gets a page and I have to come up with 20 solutions for each one.


Basic problem-solving theory: deal with the most important problem first (and in the process you’ll solve smaller related problems).


So, simultaneously brainstorming solutions to all the problems – like I was describing a couple of days ago, and which was beginning to feel overwhelming – isn’t the best approach. I need to focus.



And then it's time to sort out the rest of the problems. First I should see how dealing with this fundamental one has altered the script - and whether dealing with it has eliminated any other outstanding issues. After that, I should choose the next most fundamental issue and analyse it.




Now I’ve brainstormed options for all the problems that were raised … man, that was kinda exhausting and fun.


Maybe I *should* re-read it next but I feel like continuing to work with the ideal, abstracted script in my head rather than the real thing. So I might do something different.




Take a couple of big bits of paper – maybe one to draw a mind-map on & two or three for notes about each Act. Work my way from the start of the movie towards the finish, taking notes for the restructure – and as I run into a problem for the first time, look at my brainstormed options and choose the one that feels best right at that moment.




(And if I’m not satisfied, then it’s time for more brainstorming …)




Also, I should cross-reference this Scribbled Chart of Restructuring with my brainstorming notes – to refer to them during the slog of the rewrite




Compare your analysis with other people's feedback


But this feedback process has worked. Reading through other people's eyes has revealed the problems that were invisible to me.


Now to look at everyone else's feedback and see where they and I agree.




Trying to cut 10% of the script (down to about 90 pages) is fun.



What's involved in an editing pass?

  • Read it and make revisions (obviously.
  • Check that the dialogue is marked up correctly with '(CONT.)' indicators, etc.
  • Do a reverse-proof: starting at the last page, work through the script backwards, sentence by sentence, looking for errors and opportunities to improve readability or cut material.
  • Spell-check
  • Review the scene headings. Are they consistent? Does the timeline work?


When to ship?


I have four measures to determine when it's time to ship:


1) I've run out of time

2) I can visualise how a scene needs to be shot.

3) I really want to film it.


And most importantly


4) When I read it from start to finish, I'm absorbed - taking hardly any notes.



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