Redrafting can sometimes be an incredibly frustrating process and sometimes it can be an incredibly enjoyable one. It’s when you really start to realise if you’re idea is going to be something or nothing. It’s when you really start to figure out what you want to say with your film.
As you start to redraft you see what elements in a scene are working and what aren’t. Maybe the tone is correct but the setting just isn’t right. Maybe the dialogue is spot on but it’s lacking in atmosphere. Redrafting is about accessing what you’ve done, being realistic with your own work and figuring out where you can improve.
Sometimes in a redraft you’ll change a few words; a character will stride across a room instead of walk across a room. It’s a small detail but it creates character, it creates atmosphere and when it comes to a group of people interpreting that script into a film, it’s the small details that matter. If an actor already knows how they’re supposed to move in a scene then they’ll already know how their character is feeling within that scene; direction then becomes much more specific and interesting.
On other occasions whole scenes will change. It’s a difficult decision to make; to decide a scene just isn’t working within the context of the film and needs to be deleted. Yet it doesn’t mean something of it can’t linger on. For example in the first draft of my latest script, I knew I wanted a scene that was dialogue heavy that had tension and suspense where characters never said what they were thinking but their true meaning/intentions were heavily implied. While I didn’t know what form this scene should take, I wrote something anyway that, as a singular scene, worked well. However it brought in two new characters we’d never met before and this made it difficult for the stakes of the scene to matter. In a short film you have to be very careful about the number of characters you introduce and develop. So the scene needed work but I knew the idea and the tone were right. After shifting around a few characters, altering the dialogue and building on character dynamics, I had a completely different scene that steamed from that original concept.
You’re going to redraft a script.
It’s never going to be done on draft one. Some of your ideas are going to be bad. As you’re writing them you’re going to know that some of them aren’t working and that the final version won’t resemble that initial idea. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it. You might not like what you’re writing, you might even hate it but more than likely you’ll learn something about what your film needs by writing something that it doesn’t. Realising that something isn’t working allows you to access what the film needs in it’s place. It’s a slow process, I’m already up to draft six and I’m far from finished but each draft is an improvement. As I read back I learn what my film needs and the more drafts you do the more exciting the writing becomes because you get to work on the really entertaining aspects. My main character is solid, now I need to work on my supporting characters. In initial drafts they came across as ‘bad’ people but now that I’m getting deeper into the film, my job is to expand those characters and make them more 3-dimensional so that they aren’t simple seen as bad guys.
Finishing a new draft is indescribably satisfying. Even if you’ve only changed a few words, taken out a line of dialogue or written a one line scene, it’s brought you a step closer to making your film and that’s damn exciting.