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10/15/2006: Trimming the Fat and Putting it Somewhere
Hi everyone! Hmm… there was a bunch of stuff caught in my spam filter just now. (That would have been a much more disgusting sentence years ago than it is now.) You know the kind, with the subject lines like "remember me?" or "I'm back from Japan" or "an interesting thought." The kind where I think, well, just maybe it isn't actually spam, but some interrupted communication that I've forgotten. Well, I accidentally hit "delete all" before I could look closer and… whoosh… all gone. Doesn't even show up in the "recently deleted" place. Hmm. I suppose it was probably for the best.
It's just like cutting lines out of your spec. You regret losing them as it's happening -- there's a reason you put them in to begin with, after all -- but once they're gone, everything's better. I often have such a hard time making these cuts that I find it's helpful to have another file open when I'm working a script, reserved just for putting the cut material in, in case I need it back later. I never go back and get it, but it makes it easier to make the cut knowing that, in theory, I can. If you have a hard time making cuts, you may want to give this a try. I think of it as a bucket into which I can throw scraps of fat, but now we're back to that spam-filter image, so you may not want to go there.
Remember, sometimes a line just isn't needed, even it was the reason you created the scene in the first place. Even if the audience isn't going to know something you were sure you wanted them to know. There are probably lines in your script that you would never even consider cutting, but that are actually totally unnecessary. (If you've got two people having a fascinating conversation for four pages – it's probably not as fascinating as you think.) When you have friends read your scripts, it's often good to specifically ask them to look for cuts -- they'll find things you never thought of.
And, when you're the one doing the reading, I find it's best to make two separate passes through a script. Once, to read for content and make suggestions in that area. And a separate time just to read for cuts. I don't know why, but these two agendas don't seem to work well together when you try to do them simultaneously.
Cleaner, leaner, shorter, faster. It is almost always better.
Lunch: Cup o' Noodles, drained and heated in a fry pan with hot sauce. Try it!