God’s revenge on writers – the rewrite.

September 10th, 2010 by Ron

The Script Blogger

Many years ago God asked a team of writers to write a set of rules, which he called The Commandments. He was so upset when they could only create fifteen; he gave them away to a guy called Moses.

He was even more upset when Moses dropped the stone tablets they were written on as he was reading them, and they smashed.

Moses was on his knees for hours and unable to put the pieces back into some coherent sense of order.

God thought about revenge for a few moments.

Now God’s few moments can be years on earth but eventually God clicked his fingers and said, “Re-write them”.

He then lit a huge cigar, relaxed in his large recliner and watched Charlton Heston, part the Red Sea again.

That’s when the problems first began; Moses could only remember ten of the commandments.

The first rule of re-writing is to edit and remove what isn’t required but Moses’ re-write proved that Ten Commandments are just as ineffectual as fifteen.

Rewriting often feels like punishment but in reality it is an opportunity to put some things right before you make a complete ass of yourself.

Almost certainly when a writer completes the first draft of their screenplay it is not ready for the market. It could be one reason why it is called the first draft, in the anticipation of further drafts.

The irony is many first draft screenplays echo life, in that after the initial fervour of a writer, when they begin their commitment of a concept to paper, it is like the first flush of a romance. Then slowly it becomes like a romance and starts to stagnate and loose its fire and sparkle.

Often a rewrite can save the relationship and put the sparkle back into the romance.

Personally, I believe many writer’s get too close to their own work and don’t see the woods because of the trees.  It is similar to painting and it pays to stand back and look at the complete canvas. As an artist I can speak from experience that when you do this and look at the whole picture you see more clearly the areas that need attention.

Rewriting a screenplay can be comparable to murder when a writer realises certain characters are surplus to requirements and can be eliminated. The same can apply to scenes that bring nothing to the story or don’t move the story forward. At the same time it is a chance to bring new life to the script, as it is always lurking within the pages, but often missed in the first flushes of youth.

When writers first begin the journey of becoming a writer there is a tendency for them to believe in everything they write. As their journey progresses hopefully they will examine closely their words and the necessity for all of them.

A rewrite is the perfect opportunity to replace the excitement of the first love and create a more meaningful relationship between the words used and the words needed.

As with Moses, why pick fifteen only to drop five latter and then find out that the remaining ten don’t work the way you expected.

The better you write the less you rewrite, the more you rewrite the better writer you become.

7 responses to “God’s revenge on writers – the rewrite.”

  1. Sandra El. Watson says:

    You brought a smile to my day here. It’s especially inspiring because when you’re sitting and waiting in an airport to travel on a long flight, it “softens” the pain. 🙂

    Thank you very much!


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