Too Much Culture

Some advice on rewriting from a good friend

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/01/2010

In honour of the screenwriting festival, today I am handing my blog over to Arthur N. Stafford, actor, screenwriter and co-creator of “Pulp Dogs Productions.” he’s a good freind of mine and I think he’s just about to make it big, here is what he has to say about rewriting:

It’s a well known phrase, writing is rewriting without the re at the front, and that’s something for all good writers to remember. Rewrites are your friend, they help you revise and correct you vision and eventually leave you with a better script. So with that in mind, please find below my top tips for tackling rewrites:

Identify Problems:

Is your script top heavy, does it sag midway through, is the end damp and lifeless, does the title sound gay? You should identify problems and find the best way of correcting them. In one script I wrote, I had a character who was in a wheelchair, but it was crucial to the script that he ran a marathon, so I wrote a scene where he gets better. You see, sometimes the best answers are right in front of you.


Sometimes in a script, a character doesn’t quite work, this is where rewriting comes in. Say you have a character who you have written as happy, but you want him/her to be angry. Simply do a search and replace, changing every time you’ve said “happily” to “angrily” in the script. Search and replaces also work if you want to change the race or sex of a character.

Page count

There is no ideal page count for scripts, but the perfect page count is 142 pages. If you’re script is longer, get out your scissors. Look at page one, is it necessary, does the story start at page two or three? If your page one begins: “Int.Park.Day, John makes a cup of tea” it can go. If it says: “Int.Park.Day John is being blackmailed” you’re off to a flying start.

Page One rewrites

Just last month I got an email from a producer saying a script I had sent required a “page on rewrite.” Its days like this remind me why I became a writer, clearly the script is near enough perfect, I just need to rewrite page one. A new draft of the script is due in tomorrow, but with just page one to do, I think I’ll leave rewriting ’til this evening, I’ve got Deadwood season two to watch after all ; ).

Embrace Criticism

Sending out scripts to people you trust can be really useful, however, be prepared to take on board the criticism you receive. I recently sent a thriller spec I was writing to my mum. Aside from some criticism about the strong language (chill out mum) she said she thought the script was “really good, and looked really professional, but its probably too well written” She advised that some producers might be jealous of how good I am at writing. You see sometimes its good to receive harsh criticism and start rewriting accordingly.

The red pen

Speaking of criticism don’t be afraid to take a red pen to your scripts, a real writer should have a first draft covered in red ink from all the ticks you have given your excellent writing.

Don’t over think

Half way through reading your script? Getting bored? That’s probably because you’re script can’t be improved. Just print it off, whack it in an A4 envelope and send it to a production company.

Next week we’ll be looking at how to write a covering letter for your script, how many times should you swear in them?


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