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story Rewrite a screenplay

I'll add that as a Producer, if I read a script I really liked and the inciting incident was on page 30, I would probably meet with the writer and see if they were open to moving it forward. I would guess that the writer was an amateur -- most experienced screenwriters know that a modern movie should get the story going quickly -- but, I would recognize the quality of the writing well enough to want to meet and possibly work with that writer. It wouldn't really matter what page the inciting incident occurs. Good screenwriters are a rare breed and because I'm not a well known producer, I'd want to latch on to a good, up-and-coming writer before anyone else did.
 
I know PLENTY of professional readers... One is a very good friend of mine. I know for a fact... He'd never even GET to page 10 to 15 i.e., flip to those pages to even CHECK for an inciting incident if the beginning is boring. Some readers have to do that because that's what they get paid for so they can write coverage but trust me... That coverage is going to REFLECT BORING if it is in fact boring.

Doesn't MATTER if there's an inciting incident in there or not.

I don't know of any Professional Reader who flips through to page 10 to 15 before they read the script. They usually look at the white space of the script and look at the last page to see how many pages you've written.

Most Pro readers I know -- I know 7 -- just read from beginning to end. No flipping around except for what I just wrote above. So I guess I'm not really sure what you're saying. I read all the scripts that come into our prodco because I don't trust the majority of readers out there because I know how a lot of them work... i.e., cannibalizing other pieces of coverage or not reading at all past the first 10 or 15 pages because they get paid per script i.e., the more scripts they read and cover? The more money they make.

So not really sure where you're getting the flipping to page 10 through 15 from. That takes a lot of time and for Professional Readers? Time is OF the ESSENCE!
What you say about the readers seems controversial and I can't really understand it. Do only some readers or the majority of the readers have such habits like passing the first 10 pages because the more they read the more they get paid? I've actually heard and read about that countless times.
 
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It's the little dirty secret of MANY professional readers... The more scripts they read--the more money they make. The truth is somewhere in between but trust me... There ARE professional readers who simply cannibalize from coverage they've already written and use it with some tweaks when writing new coverage.

As far as I'm concerned? Nothing wrong with doing that IF the SAME problems exist in the script they're reading. I'm all for saving time.

The problem... Unfortunately, are those readers out there who only read 10 to 25 and sometimes 30 pages and then... Based on what they've read, go ahead and write coverage based only on what they've read.

Happens every day in this industry...

Think about it... You get paid $50 to read a screenplay and write coverage. What do you do? You KNOW intrinsically most specs suck or are lacking. You know you're going to pass on 97% or MORE of the specs you read.

Some producers CAP the amounts of scripts you can read in order to THWART the practice but not all producers do. If you're a SMART reader -- and most of them are -- you can easily read through 30 pages instead of 110 to 120 and probably know exactly what other coverages you've written that you can easily cannibalize from.

Many specs -- even professional specs -- suffer from the same problems which is WHY it's easy to cannibalize from other screenplays.

Some coverage I've seen doesn't even have to cannibalize... They contain a quick, down and dirty synopsis of the story and simply GRADE the following story elements:

Characterization
Dialogue
Structure
Uniqueness/Hook
Setting/Production Value
Budget
Recommendation

I've even seen some producers not even read coverage and instead... Opt for a TOP SHEET. It's like a one page resume for a spec. The Reader maintains the coverage on their computer and may or may not eventually put that coverage in a database.

Depends on the Producer.

These days? STREAMLINING is the norm so it's very likely that we will eventually see coverage evolve into nothing but TOP SHEETS.

I know a handful of readers who DO NOT but COULD easily read the first 10 to 30 pages of a spec and write very detailed coverage based on what little they've read. How? When you've read as many specs as they have? There are Professional Readers who can certainly predict what's going to happen based on what they've read thus far.

Is that fair? Is it RIGHT?

IT IS WHAT IT IS.
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I was a professional reader for a little over 12 years. I covered for Bruckheimer,
New Line, Paramount, Disney and a few other well known producers.

I was not reading scripts to help the writer get better. I was not reading to encourage
the writer. I was covering scripts so my boss didn't have to read stuff he wasn't
interested in. I did not want to give them a script that needed a lot of work. All scripts
are rewritten, but there was no way I was going to sent a script to Jerry Bruckheimer
with my “consider” if it wasn't really damn good. He trusted me. I couldn't say,
“This needs a lot of work and with some help this writer might be great.”

We don't look for anything based on page counts. As Unknown suggests, if your
script is compelling and moves and the inciting incident doesn't happen until page
12 (or 20) that's fine. And something that can be worked in if necessary. I also never
wanted to say, “It takes a while to get there but when it does... it's terrific.”
What you say about the readers seems controversial and I can't really understand it. Do only some readers or the majority of the readers have such habits like passing the first 10 pages because the more they read the more they get paid? I've actually heard and read about that countless times.

Yes, we kind of do. When you've read as many scrips as I have, as professional
readers do, you get a pretty good feel of a script in the first 10. If a writer can't grab
the reader in the first 10, it's rare they will grab them in the next 10.

It's not fair, is it?

So KILL that first 10!
 
It's likely that your scenes start too early and end too late. Eliminate transitory scene, i.e., transporting or arriving at the next scene. Look for superfolous characterization scenes that can be cut or transitoined into part of another scene. Consolidate you scenes so that every scene has two reasons for existing. If it doesn't progress the main plot, it doesn't get it's own scene.
 
I've struggled a lot about what to cut in a long screenplay, I've search everywhere, in books and videos, but there was something missing. The real problem was that all my scenes serve the plot. I could cut about 15 - 20 pages of inefficient writing, long descriptions and such things but then I would have an 160 minutes movie. Even If I sacrificed some scenes I could made it 150, 140 pages, but again, which scenes to sacrifice? And then which ones to sacrifice to shorten it by about 40 more pages to make it 100 - 110? What is the criteria to cut these scenes and not the others if all serve the plot and move the story forward? Cut the ones that serve the plot less? Chose the ones that you like less? I needed a solid reasoning on what to cut!

When I watched that video, it kind of clarified everything in my mind about what is the basis of the story and therefore what is not needed, even if it moves the story forward, or serves the plot. In that video the guy says that the plot is not about... the plot, but about the hero's arc. Even if a scene serve the plot and adds a momentary greatness, you should cut it if it doesn't serve the hero's arc. What is your opinion on his view?

 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I listened to what Alan Watt says in this video, and the number one thing I get from this is KNOW YOUR PROTAGONIST and the world in which (s)he lives thoroughly before you sit down to outline your screenplay. Know their wants, needs, priorities, loves, hates, values, fears, and desires.

Watt says you should think about the story and the protagonist for a week before you sit down to outline your screenplay or novel - I always think about it for at least that long.

This ties in to the question that the interviewer asks about whether it's necessary to know the end before you sit down to write the outline. I agree with the response that its sometimes good to do that, but you also have to be willing to discover the ending based on the character. I've definitely had this happen: I THINK the hero should/would/will do X at the end. But when I get to that point, I realize that this person - and it IS a real person to me by this time - wouldn't do that. So rather than forcing the hero to do the pre-determined thing (whatever that is), allow the character to dictate the climax and the ending.

The other thing I hear is make sure that your hero is active rather than passive, and I agree with that as well. You don't want things to simply happen to her, and for the crisis at the end resolve on its own - the hero needs to drive the climax and the ending.

If you're really stuck and don't see a way to get to the target length, I suggest that you find someone to read and critique it for you. And yes, that probably (but not necessarily) means paying someone. You don't have to take their recommendations, but at least some of what the person says may help you to find your way.

Good luck!
 
I also think my story many months before start writing. I enjoy it. I actually finish the movie in my mind and then I just describe it on paper.

I was stuck, but I unstuck mainly with that video and the revealing advise that the outline, the spine of a story is the hero's arc and not the plot and therefore you have to build-get rid of around that. Also from all the information I gathered the last 6 months from internet including this forum.

I think you can solve such problems using internet without paying although it is extremely hard, but in my opinion extremely beneficial too.

Thank you!
 
I've struggled a lot about what to cut in a long screenplay, I've search everywhere, in books and videos, but there was something missing. The real problem was that all my scenes serve the plot. I could cut about 15 - 20 pages of inefficient writing, long descriptions and such things but then I would have an 160 minutes movie. Even If I sacrificed some scenes I could made it 150, 140 pages, but again, which scenes to sacrifice? And then which ones to sacrifice to shorten it by about 40 more pages to make it 100 - 110? What is the criteria to cut these scenes and not the others if all serve the plot and move the story forward? Cut the ones that serve the plot less? Chose the ones that you like less? I needed a solid reasoning on what to cut!

When I watched that video, it kind of clarified everything in my mind about what is the basis of the story and therefore what is not needed, even if it moves the story forward, or serves the plot. In that video the guy says that the plot is not about... the plot, but about the hero's arc. Even if a scene serve the plot and adds a momentary greatness, you should cut it if it doesn't serve the hero's arc. What is your opinion on his view?

Action Genre Heroes don't have an arc. That's John Jarvis' opinion and I agree.
This guy is confusing the Hero for the Impact Character, which are not generally the same thing, (but can be).
For cutting down, if every scene is essential to the story and it's 180 pages, etiher turn into Tarentino or write a novel. It'll be 240 pages by the time it's a shooting script. However, likey you're overlooking redundancies and/or uneeded complexities and dialouge exposition that can be cut or modified.
 
Action Genre Heroes don't have an arc. That's John Jarvis' opinion and I agree.
This guy is confusing the Hero for the Impact Character, which are not generally the same thing, (but can be).
For cutting down, if every scene is essential to the story and it's 180 pages, etiher turn into Tarentino or write a novel. It'll be 240 pages by the time it's a shooting script. However, likey you're overlooking redundancies and/or uneeded complexities and dialouge exposition that can be cut or modified.
Alan Watt doesn't make a living by writing screenplays and I want to be taking what the "teachers" and "gurus" say with a grain of salt. But I guess is a tremendous discussion because I've learned everything about transforming a story to a proper screenplay from them.

likey you're overlooking redundancies and/or uneeded complexities and dialouge exposition that can be cut or modified.
Here you've hit a spot. I suspect that my bad writing could be way more than 20 pages, but the problem, I think, is that it's definitely not 70 pages to reach 110. If I was Tarantino (soon...) I could make it a certainly not boring movie more than 2 hours, but until then I think I have to play with their rules and cut any fat around the spine of my story and maybe a bit of muscle too.
 
Hello, I've written a script 180 pages and now I have to cut it to about 110. Do you have any suggestions on what to cut. What plan to follow to spot the unnecessary? What is considered as unnecessary in a screenplay? Also any suggestions on the strategy to follow for rewrite?
it helps to write outline of those 180 pages, maybe fit in 2-3 pages. you will have to cut through 180 pages and get essentials for the outline. Based on the outline, now you can get back to those 180 pages and cut 90 pages out of them. Outline is a tool, which keeps writing disciplined.
 
Perhaps what you have is an initial story and a sequel? is there a natural midpoint that would be a good stopping point for the first story. Or, maybe, it's a story and its prequel?
 
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