Less is more. Another cliche, another basic truth. Especially in script writing. My suggestion is to make a continuous loop tape of this three-word sentence and have it running in your head whenever you work on rewrites.
Early drafts, especially first drafts, are notorious for over explaining and forcing information. On your first pass-through, you are exploring and discovering as you go, at least to some degree. A certain amount of overwriting is normal and inevitable.
Now, however, with the finished draft in your hands, you know where your story ends up and the initial route it took to get there. This allows you to apply the “less is more” principle with a good measure of confidence as you work your way through subsequent drafts.
Probably the best explanation I’ve ever heard of a writer’s rewriting process is what Academy Award winning screenwriter and playwright Horton Foote once told me: I am merciless about it, and I say to myself “is this scene too long, or have we lost the wants here? Are they talking too much?…Is there too much exposition? How can I do this more simply? I believe in elimination. I always ask myself, “What can I do without?”
Your job now is to get everything out of the script that the audience can discover for themselves. So in your rewriting strive to put as much between the lines as you have in the lines. That’s when less really becomes more.
I’m also a playwright and screenwriter, producing partner in my production company Either/Or Films (The Sensation of Sight and Only Daughter) a professional script consultant, and the author of The Playwright’s Process. You can follow me on Twitter @eitherorfilms or @mfastagescreen. I’m also on Facebook at buzzmclaughlinscriptconsulting.
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