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
When Do You Know
Your Script Is Done?
Your script is done
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.