You may have noticed I haven’t been online much lately. That’s because I’ve been finishing the fourth draft of a feature film script I was working on for a friend. Two years in the making. She was heading back home to the UK for a month and wanted to take the completed version. Sounds easy enough however when I originally wrote the first draft I was using Apple’s Pages program and not the industry standard of Final Draft. I hadn’t purchased it yet as I’d gotten away for so long without it. But the time had finally come. Now with Final Draft on my computer all I had to do was transfer the script. Not an overnight process I can tell you. It took a couple of weeks for two reasons:
1. After googling the best way to do it there were a few steps involved. Once the transfer was complete all the text was sitting in ‘Action’ including all dialogue, character names, transitions, scene headings, etc. It looked like a typical novel. Ah! I had to go through the whole script line by line to reformat it. This would really have only taken a week if I went gung-ho but it was doing my head in. So I needed more time.
2. Initially, my goal was literally to transfer the script into Final Draft then print it out and hand it over to my friend. But it had been at least 6 months since I’d read it. As I was reading and reformatting it, it was like I was reading it for the first time and suddenly without thinking my fingers took over and made changes. Not just a few, but stacks of changes. I deleted scenes, sharpened dialogue and even added a character. It felt bloody amazing.
SO HERE IS THE BIGGEST SECRET TO TURNING YOUR SCRIPT FROM GOOD TO GREAT
(I say that genuinely without as much ego as I can muster!)….
Walk away from it. Let it go. I know this is nothing new and revolutionary. You’ve probably been told this many times. I have. I’d been told to let it rest for a while then come back to it. But my friend and I exchanged some ‘cross’ words 6 months ago so I took the opportunity to walk away from it (not permanently, I just needed space). It was more like a forced exile in a way. But eventually I let it go completely. I got to the point that if nothing happened with this script I was happy with that because it was work I was proud of and I learnt many great lessons along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing, not even the cross words with my friend because if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have gotten to the point of letting go.
In the past whenever I’ve walked away from a script to let it rest and freshen my mind it would have been a few weeks, one month tops. All the time still thinking about it. This forced exile was a staggering 6 months and eventually I stopped thinking about it altogether. Towards the end of the 6 months my friend and I made amends and then finally the day came for me to return to it. Suddenly I felt a new vigour, something far beyond anything I could ever imagine. I’d go so far as to say it was out of this world. Channelling as they say. Was my forced exile meant to happen? Yes, yes, yes!
The end result was 10 pages cut off and a very tight script. Before I made the changes my friend asked me if I was happy with it. I said ask me when I’m done. When I finished I swore and said I was f***ing ecstatic with it. I took the script to a whole new level that I didn’t think I could do. All because of 6 months forced exile.
So I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU WALKING AWAY FROM YOUR SCRIPT FOR NOT JUST A WEEK OR A MONTH BUT AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO RAISE THE STANDARD OF YOUR SCRIPT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. I guarantee you will rewrite your next draft with such zest and power it will literally blow your mind away! Isn’t the whole point of writing a script either to sell it or get it made into a film?
The best thing you can do for you and your script is let it go.