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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

How do you know when your script is done?

Kelly C. from Flint, Michigan

This week's Answer: 


Kelly, I really appreciate your e-mail because many screenwriters have voiced that very same question time and time again.  How do you know when a script is done?  Personally, I usually leave it in the oven at 350 degrees for about forty-five minutes and take it out just before it starts to curl (or explode into flames.  That's known in the biz as a hot script).  

Actually, it's not always easy to know when your screenplay is done.  Of course, if you've written "FADE OUT" at the end of the last page, that's a pretty good indication that there won't be much more to say.  I do go by a few rules of thumb (or "rules of finger" if you like to point at people more than hitchhike) that might help you, Kelly and anybody else who may be reading this and is interested in the subject of knowing...

When Do You Know Your Script Is Done?

Your script is done when...

1.  You look at the pages, but can't see what's on them anymore.

2.  When you type, "FADE OUT," you throw a month-long party.

3.  When you type, "FADE IN:", you throw a month-long party.

4.  After you type, "FADE OUT," you find yourself hallucinating about writing a fourth act.  

5.  The thought of making one more change in your script sends you  into fits of hysteria and you find yourself actually wanting to watch the Jerry Springer show.

6.  The word, "polish," makes you cringe.

7.  The words, "but maybe it should be this way," makes you want to polish your script until its just tiny, bits of tattered paper (or until your monitor has been smashed into bigger bits by your expert toss of it out your window).

The truth is to not worry about knowing when your script is done.  You'll know when it's done.  But, even more importantly, your script will know when you're done.  (I have no idea what that means, but it does sound quite profound, don't you agree?)  It'll be like it is with a painter who realizes not one more brushstroke is necessary and looks at his masterpiece and says, "voila!"  You can try that if you like.  Type:  "FADE OUT" and then say, "voila!"  Or... type:  "VOILA" (it might work if you're working on a foreign, preferably French, screenplay) and then say, "fade out!"

Or you can always put it in the oven another fifteen minutes and see if it sizzles.



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