Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Revisiting a script.

I have a couple scripts slowly winding their way toward production. It's a lesson. I was hired for a rewrite on a gay love story. They wanted a psychological drama instead. And it's to be set in the U.S., and not Brazil. Then it got moved to Brazil for tax reasons. Then it got moved again. Then there was supposed to be a happy ending for the straight couple. And the whole gay love issue, which got pushed into the subtext, well, it was okay to use a bit more of that to turn up the tension. There's still another rewrite coming before it gets shot.

Sound awful? It isn't. If you're thinking about your settings and characters, you'll find more there than you ever will slogging through dialogue. And each of those changes, as drastic as they sound, is an opportunity to explore your characters, learn more about the set ups, and find more dramatic ways to bring your story to the screen. While writers naturally have a lot of "ownership" of their work, a screenwriter doesn't have the luxury of it the same way a novelist does. We're just the first step. And a good storyteller needs to be able to use the tools he has available.

I talked about one of those tools -- synopsis -- at length a few weeks back. Once you have that technique down, it's AMAZING how simply reworking the sentences to bring forward one aspect or another, or to brainstorm uses of new locations, can tell you more about the story than you knew existed before.

I'm adding a character to a different script for the same director now. He's got an exciting actress to play a part. She's good for investors in the first script, and adding her to the second is a smart strategy. I've learned enough at this stage that I'm thrilled at the opportunity to go back to my old work, find what needs work, and use the new tool I have wherever possible to make it better. I can't talk about the specifics too directly, but suffice it to say that she's a comic character, and everything the main bad guy envies. She'll be in a few scenes, tell a few jokes, and drive the bad guy to distraction. And it'll add exactly the kind of depth that the main character needs.

It's moments like this that make me glad to be a screenwriter...


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing those moments and good luck on that project

Rich said...

Thanks for coming by... gonna list your blog on my screenwriting sites... okay with you?

Janis said...

Awesome blog! your advice goes straight to the heart of things, as always.