Fifty Out


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It calls to me...

So it took me three rounds of revisions to take fifty pages out of my script. It could really stand to lose another ten ( couldn’t we all?) but I’m discovering that each round of editing delivers a diminished return: the “blue” cut was a solid nineteen pages, the “green” cut was seventeen-ish. The “red” cut only fourteen.

I finally had to stop cutting and call it a draft. I’d trimmed away enough volume to be cutting pretty close to the quick and I’d done all the edits by hand on a single printout- thus the color coding so that I could keep track of which edit happened when. But it turns out, that when you cut out nearly a third of your text that it’s pretty difficult to figure out what’s left. Scenes get combined. Exposition gets moved. What was once a big series of three or four talky dialogue scenes have been condensed into one. What was once a single big scene had now become a sprinkling of vignettes across an entire act…

The bottom line is that I need a new printout before I can tackle any more cutting. And it might be a good time to take a few days to get some distance from it: it has taken up residence on my attention span and become the only thing that I want to think about. This probably means that I’m getting too attached to it and can’t make objective choices about what is good storytelling vs my own writerly edification.

I think it is this tendency to hyper-focus on things like art and writing and directing- as even reading sometimes- it’s what makes me deflect myself from taking a direct path towards the things that I want to do in life. It sometimes feels like I’m avoiding the things that I love the most because I love them like an addict- once I get started on something it’s tempting to do it to the exclusion of all else.

Over the past few years, I think I might have overcorrected for this and gone so far to the extreme other end of the spectrum until I found myself actually avoiding the things I most wanted to do.  So now I need to bring myself back to the middle ground: stop being only an editor. Don’t get me wrong, editing is absolutely essential to good work, but not when it’s to the exclusion of being an artist.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 26, 2016.

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