Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: What to do after you finish your first draft

December 2nd, 2008 by

Okay, so you’ve just typed FADE OUT of the first draft of your latest screenplay. What’s the first thing you do?

Celebrate and get drunk? No, that’s the second thing you do.

The first thing you do is print out a copy of your script, stick it in a drawer, and don’t read it for two full weeks.

That’s right. Do not read it. For. Two. Full. Weeks.

“Why,” you may ask.

Because you have this thing known as a “rewrite” coming up. And one asset you will absolutely need for that process is a fresh set of eyes.

More than likely, at the moment you typed FADE OUT, your estimation of your first draft would put it (quality-wise) somewhere between Gone With the Wind and Juno. If you use that set of eyes to make judgments during your rewrite, you won’t improve your script much.

But if you give yourself two weeks off, 14 entire days without so much as peeking at your script, on day 15 when you finally do pull the script out of its drawer and read it, you will be amazed at what you find – lots of problems.

And that’s the point: The only way you can improve your script in the rewrite process is to identify and solve its problems. And you can’t solve the problems if you can’t ‘see’ them in the first place. And you can’t see them if you don’t have a fresh set of eyes.

By taking two weeks away from your script, you play a little trick on your brain, providing some distance between it and the script, resulting in a fresh set of eyes in order to honestly judge the material you’ve written.

Once again, here’s the trick:

* Type FADE OUT
* Print script
* Stash in drawer
* Set timer for 2 weeks
* On Day 15, pull script out of hiding, read, and begin your rewrite process

This has been another installment of Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.

One thought on “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: What to do after you finish your first draft

  1. Tom says:

    As fine wine turns into vineger with age, so my brilliant screenplay turns into a first draft.

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