Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Screenplay too long?: What to cut...Part Deux

There are tons of posts around (including on this blog) about how to shorten a screenplay that's too long. After recently being told our 101 page comedy should be 90 (YES. 90. Things are getting that short) I've embarked on a shortening journey.

There are certain inalienable truths of shortening: It's a pain in the ass. It's not fun. It takes a lot of concentration and determination. But finally, it has to be done.

So I thought we could share some tips that I haven't seen around the internet and maybe also comment on those tips.

First and foremost: Don't use the TIGHT feature on Final Draft. That's cheating and you'll end up looking like a total noob.

Here are some common practices:

1) Clean up widows and orphans. Don't let any one word of dialogue get a whole line.
2) Look for big chunks of dialogue. Reword thing so they are shorter.
3) Same for action paragraphs.

Here's what I've found useful while scanning our screenplay:

1) Look for blocks of action tacked onto the end of your scenes. Do you need this at all? Probably it is too detailed. We don't need to know how someone walks away. just that they walk away at all.

2) Look for LONE lines of action between dialogue. Can this be tacked on to earlier action paragraphs or deleted all together? Each of these takes 3 LINES in your screenplay. And it's probably not worth it.

3) Look at ALL YOU WRYLIES. And delete them. Then read through again and see if you needed them at all.

4) CUT FREELY. Cut broad swaths from your screenplay. Don't be afraid. If you miss a joke, you can always put it back in, and chances are you'll forget it was ever there. Make them scenes trim and fit, yo!

5) Look for ellipses. Are they really needed. Are they the character hesitating, or you hesitating as you wrote?

6) Do you have really long character names? Comb through and see if maybe characters are referred to by name too often (either in action or in dialogue).

That's all we can think of for now that isn't covered in depth elsewhere.

Oh! And it's been said so many times before, but it needs repeating - get into your scenes as early as possible, and get out as late as possible!

Dick and Jane


Scripted Wit said...

Some other things that have come up this morning...


lots of time this can be cut.

scriptedwit said...

Also, look for spots where this happens.


that can be...


your readers can fill in the blanks.

Post a Comment

Copyright 2009 Scripted Wit. Powered by Blogger
Blogger Templates created by Deluxe Templates
Wordpress by Wpthemescreator
Blogger Showcase