Trimming the Fat

Last week I finished up a script I’ve been working on — a screen adaptation of Laura Gallier’s paranormal thriller, The Delusion. As an editor, this is my favorite part of screenwriting: that last read through, when I get to go through the entire thing and just trim the fat; find those places where just by cutting out a couple of words, that chunk of description goes from three lines down to two:

Cutting lines

or that chunk of dialogue goes from five lines down to four:

Cutting lines 2

For this script, the cascading effect of those kinds of changes ultimately reduced the page count from 123 to 115 — and more importantly, made for a stronger, tighter read.

I think this step is a must for any script before you do anything with it. I try to avoid prescriptive rules when it comes to screenwriting (or any kind of writing), but I always notice if there are a lot of dangling words (like “him” or “running” in the first example above), and I feel like it’s a sign of an amateur writer. I wouldn’t consciously pass on a script because of that alone, but it’s one of those things that can make a script drag, and people will pass on your script if it drags.

 

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