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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

DcH, I just finished a screenplay or at least I think I did.  That’s my point.  How do you know when your script is done?

Ridge T. from Lakeview Terrace

This week's Answer: 

Reread and Rewrite

Ridge, I sympathize with you (if you need any sympathy, which you might not).  Knowing when your screenplay has fully “faded out” in terms of no more writing is not always an easy call.  One thing that might help is to know that every time you read through it, you will, without doubt (although we often have doubts about our screenplays) see where you can and might make improvements.  Even if you read your screenplay fifty times, you’ll always catch something that you can change.  (Now, fifty-one is a completely different story.  After fifty-one, that’s your final draft.  Not really.)  It can drive you crazy if you let it.  So don’t let it.  The solution:  Never reread your screenplay.  Not really.  Reread it as many times as you want.  Just know that you’re always going to want to change something.  And try not to kick yourself for missing something that you see later.  It’s the nature of the beast.  And another thing that will help you in this matter is that, once you sell your script, unless you’re the head of the studio or the executive producer (actually, that may not work because there are often more than one executive producers on a project – which makes me wonder why they’re called “executive” in the first place), others – and I mean a lot of “others” – will be changing (hopefully “changing” doesn’t mean “ruining without mercy” in your case) your script.  It will pass through many hands.  (That’s why you always want to wash your hands after touching a script.  You don’t know where it’s been.)  Everybody from the producer to the costumer may influence your work.  Heck, if a mailman accidentally drops the envelope with your screenplay and it falls out, before it gets back in the envelope, he may do a full rewrite.



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