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Home » Archives » October 2007 » Back to the Drawing Board and Loving it!
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10/17/2007: Back to the Drawing Board and Loving it!

A supplemental post today, Gentle Readers, because I don't like to have a day in which there is a new post, but no actual writing advice. So here we go...

Sometimes you have to rewrite a scene quickly and under pressure. Certainly, when you're on staff and your episode is being produced, you will have to do this. But even as a spec writer with a contest deadline looming, you sometimes have to do this if you've suddenly realized that a scene isn't working. The best way to approach fast and stressy work is to make your job easy. That means limiting yourself to one goal: a scene that fulfills its function in the story. Notice that preserving a line that you really love, or keeping a certain character in the scene, or retaining a really cool transition into the next scene... these are additional goals. They might feel like they're making it easier, since they represent work that's already been done, but they really aren't. They're splitting your focus.

It's usually fastest to throw everything out, start with a bare slug line and think about the absolute minimum that the scene needs to accomplish in the story. Get that down. Now you can embroider and embellish... hey, maybe you can even fit in that line you wanted to save after all, but that's only a consideration after the scene is working.

This method also helps combat scene-spread, the tendency of scenes to expand during re-writing. A scene written this way will be short and to-the-point, which is probably -- almost certainly -- exactly what you need anyway.

Lunch: pulled pork, beans, beets, corn. Like a picnic!


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