For many writers the revision process is a daunting task. It can be less challenging when you approach the next draft with a clear, organized plan. Here are three steps to help you along your path to a successful rewrite:
STEP 1: CLARIFY YOUR VISION OF THE FINAL DRAFT
What is your goal for the script? Do you want to capture the tone and pace of a particular genre? Is your intent to convey a specific theme or tell a character-based story? When you have a clear vision of what you want your final draft to look like, then you have a destination. When you have a destination you clearly know where you want to go, how to map your way to get there and, most importantly, you can determine when you’ve finally arrived.
STEP 2: ANALYZE & CHART THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF YOUR CURRENT DRAFT
Review each element and note where it's weak or needs improvement. Your chart may look something like:
Protagonist's Dialogue = strong
Antagonist's Dialogue = weak (cliché, missing a "bad guy speech"….)
First Act Structure = weak (lacking compelling inciting incident, didn’t introduce antagonist, dramatic question not set up…)
Tips for analyzing your script:
Read For Structure
Does the script hit all the necessary structure elements, including the hook, the set up, the inciting incident, the crisis, climax, and resolution?
Tip 1: Read For Scenes and Sequences
Does each scene and sequence have a beginning, middle, and end? Do they contain escalating conflict and pack an emotional punch?
Tip 2: Read For Description
Does the narrative tell a visual story and move the story forward? Does it capture the tone and pace of the story? Is it succinct and direct?
Tip 3: Read For Dialogue
Is the dialogue compelling? Is each word necessary? Could the characters be doing something instead of talking about it? Does each character have an individual voice that is distinct from all the other characters’ voices?
Tip 4: Read For Characters
Is each character fully developed? Does each character have a purpose? Does the main character experience a significant and believable transformation?
Tip 5: Read For Throughline
Is the throughline consistent? Does each element serve the throughline?
STEP 3: CREATE A REVISION MAP
Once you have analyzed and charted the strengths and weaknesses of the current draft, you can create an effective revision map to follow throughout the rewrite process. The revision map is a checklist of each of the areas you need to address, for instance:
- Add a scene to Act Two to show the protagonist’s admiration for his brother
- Polish the antagonist’s dialogue to reflect his education
- Escalate the conflict in scene three of Act One
- Combine the characters of Mary and Sue into one character for stronger impact
- Move the fourth scene in Act Three to the end of Act Two
- Eliminate scenes in the First Act to get to the inciting incident quicker
- Clarify the protagonist’s goal in Act One
Now you’re ready to attack your next rewrite.