Do I have to rewrite my screenplay? Yes. You do. Sure, you think it’s perfect. You’re supposed to. At first. But then step away from it. For a day or a week or a month. And then have a look. Chances are you’ll find that gremlins came in the night and took a blowtorch to it. Now you’re left to pick up the pieces. Fret not. It’s tough for anyone to see the forest from the trees when they’re in the thick of the thicket. Taking time away from your work is the easiest way to see what it needs.
Hemingway said writing IS rewriting. Of course, that’s probably what drove him to drink. But if you know it’s part of the deal going in, chances are it will be a smoother ride coming out. The trick is knowing what to look for.
Is your theme resonant?
Do your characters arc?
Are the promises of your genre being fulfilled?
Do your transitions propel you from one scene to the next?
Are your scenes scenic?
Is your climax climactic?
Is the story emotional?
Is it interesting?
Is it clear?
Have you answered all the questions you raised???
Writing a movie is like juggling. You may throw 100 balls in the air in the process. You can throw as many as you want. You just want to make sure you’ve caught them all before you’re done or your audience is going to feel robbed.
Once you’ve done everything you can think of… cut it. That’s right. Slice and dice, baby. How? You can usually come into scenes later than you think and get out earlier. Lose anything that’s not pushing the story forward or revealing character. Toss extraneous dialogue. Eliminate repetition. Tighten descriptions. You might even be able to cut a character. Or two.
Then as the saying goes… “Kill your darlings.” There is a chance some of your favorite lines, beats or scenes are holding you back. Print them, frame them, hold a small parade for them should you like, but if they’re not serving the best interest of the story at large… lose them. More than likely, you won’t miss them. Really.
Be strong. Be bold. And beware the gremlins.