Playing the waiting game while somebody else has your script isn’t easy. In my case I haven’t even passed in on yet because I’m waiting on printer ink. But I’m not squandering this time, either in anxious anticipation, or “vacationing” from the script. I’m not pouring over it either, fussing over tweaks and small changes. I am, however using this time to consider what I’ve written from a distance.
Sure, I went through when the draft was done to handle some spelling problems and minor details, but what begins to happen when you repeatedly go over something like this without a break is it all starts to become a bit boring. Instead, I walk away from it, but I allow new thoughts to circulate. It’s a rough draft and I have concerns about it that need to be addressed in my next revision. As I reflect on where I think there may be issues I make a note of it in a separate notebook. I may come up with a pretty good list on my own, but I’m going to continue to keep those notes separate until I am able to discuss the script with somebody who’s read it.
There are a couple of reasons for waiting. One is to reduce the number of rewrites on your script and keep your mind as fresh and interested in the project as possible. There is no question you will be rewriting the script after it is read, no matter what. So hold off on your own notes until you have a fresh perspective from a reader or two at your disposal. The other is so that you can address your own concerns with somebody else who knows the story, before injecting it into the story without feedback to your initial work.
I’m very happy with my draft and the notes I’ve come up with so far to make it better. I put my best work into its creation and I know that as imperfect as it is, going back and trying to rewrite it so soon will only hamper my excitement and hinder its development. So, instead I think about it as I think about a movie after I’ve watched it. I think about what sticks, what needs more push, more depth, or more reinforcement. In some cases, maybe less of something is needed, though with this draft I tended to keep it very lean.
Because I deviated from my original outline for the sake of telling the story in a more dramatic and interesting way, I was forced to bush-whack into uncharted territory while finding a way back to the ending I had envisioned. The second act turned out to be exciting and exhausting and shorter than I planned originally due to the sensitivity of the plot once it hit the turning point. That is to say, that once I determined that I could no longer keep the cardinal reveal a secret to the reader, the following scenes delivered and onslaught of intensity that barreled relentlessly toward their inevitable conclusion. Because of this the question arises in my mind of whether or not I should add some length to the second act, or leave it alone. Ultimately, the thoughts of my readers will impact that decision. In the meantime, it is helpful to take a step back and redo my outline to reflect the new scenes and the loss of the old ones. A new set of cards for all the scenes sectioned off into sequences is a terrific way to view your script at a glance and see what you’ve ended up with and where it may be unbalanced. Keep it in mind as you ponder taking your screenplay to the next level and try to have as much to talk about with your readers, along the lines of improving your script, as possible.
As I said before regarding your readers, notes are good, but you don’t want someone to read with the expressed purpose of giving you notes. It will deter from the real fixes by creating the confusion of alternative visions. It also invites readers to think critically about what they are reading in installments as though each installment were a complete work. As writers we raise questions to pique interest of our readers, but a reader, thinking critically about a work might respond negatively to those questions, not having the answers themselves. This is why notes should never be the objective of the reader, but will result as a necessary afterthought. Of course, it all depends on how much work the script needs. If for some reason it fails to deliver on the fundamental aspects of storytelling, it’s going to be a long read and a reader might be hard pressed to be open-minded and uncritical about it. I’ve been there, I’m afraid. And I’ve written terrible scripts and reacted defensively before.
It’s important to understand through this process, that your script is not finished yet and may look very different when all is done. You don’t have to agree with everything you hear, but you have to consider your audience. You wrote something, because you were excited about it and only you could do it quite like you did, but now you want to make sure that other people can be just as excited about what you’re doing. Your going to get a lot of ideas and suggestions to work through and that’s why it helps to be prepared with some of your own reactions to the script to share and discuss with the people who read it. Hopefully, the result will be a more solidified concept for your revision.