If writing is rewriting, try these ten minute rewrites

I regularly listen to Pilar Alessandra’s weekly screenwriting podcast (iTunes, FeedBurner) as part of her ‘On the Page’ script consultation and screenwriting education business.

Many writers know that screenwriting is rewriting, and almost each week Pilar suggests a ten minute exercise that you can do to improve the current draft of your script. Here are three examples:

Create character rules. What does your character always do in his or her public life, personal life or private life? Apply those rules to situations to create unique scenes. Or, break a rule later on, to show character development and change.

So does your protagonist do in the company of strangers, with loved ones or alone? They might continually swear – or never curse at all. That can tell us a lot about a person. The point when they break those rules tells us more. These rules illustrate change in your character. Do the same for all your major characters – especially your antagonist.

To find the perspective and arc of another character in the script, ask what that character’s movie is. Do a “what if” log-line from that character’s point of view.

Every character’s logline should make sense from their point of view. If you come up with a antagonist logline, your script will be stronger.

In scene direction, re-describe characters using “essence statements.”
– “The kind of woman you’d leave your wife for.”
– “He never met a jelly donut he didn’t like.”
– “Blink and you’ll miss her.”
All of these statements are more descriptive than a simple laundry list of physical attributes.

These statements are much more useful for directors, casting agents and actors.

These are just three of over 40 exercises broadcast over the last 14 months. The podcast is a lot more than this. Most weeks you’ll hear from interesting guests of all kinds: producers, agents, managers, directors, lawyers and development executives as well as writers. The show is also a fun listen.

There are a lot of episodes already up, so it’s time to start catching up.

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