• REVISION TIP #8 – Follow Your Character’s Want

    November 20, 2014

    Oftentimes, in early drafts, we’re so concerned with what happens in our story (the plot) that we end up…

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  • REVISION TIP #7 – When In Doubt, Cut It Out!

    November 13, 2014

    Oftentimes the best (and easiest) rewrites begin not by adding anything at all, but simply by stripping away the…

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  • REVISION TIP #6 – Use Your Theme

    November 9, 2014

    If you’ve ever been part of an unmoderated writing group, you already know what it’s like to lose control…

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  • REVISION TIP #5 – Beware Written Notes

    October 30, 2014

    To paraphrase the great novelist Neil Gaiman: When someone tells you exactly what’s wrong with your writing and exactly…

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  • REVISION TIP #4 – Stay Away From Quick Fixes

    October 23, 2014

    Despite all our best-laid plans to set clear goals, focus on one thing at a time, and concentrate on…

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  • REVISION TIP #3 – Concentrate On What’s Working

    October 19, 2014

    One of the most common mistakes screenwriters make when revising a screenplay is to concentrate on what’s not working…

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  • REVISION TIP #2 – Focus On One Goal At A Time

    October 8, 2014

    Revision: Focus On One Goal At A Time

    By Jacob Krueger

    Each week, as part of the “10 Things to Know About Revision” article series, we’re going to be discussing a simple thing you can do right now to breathe life into your rewrite, and make the process not only effective, but also fun! Want to learn more about The Art of Revision? Check out our long awaited 8 Week Revision Workshop with George Strayton in NYC or Online.
    As we discussed in last week’s article, when working on a rewrite of a screenplay, it’s vital to set one clear, objective goal for the revision, so you can know what is most important in this phase of the process, and what can be left to a later draft. Without a clear, recognizable goal that we know we can achieve, it’s easy to find ourselves rewriting from a place of fear: driven by a deep anxiety that our screenplay is just not good enough without the benefit of a tangible vision of what good enough would actually be! On the other extreme, it’s easy to overwhelm ourselves with too many tangible goals; compiling never-ending (and often conflicting) checklists of things to be fixed and improved in our screenplays as we try to heed the advice of every cook in the kitchen. Cooks including coverage readers, producers, friends, family, teachers, writers groups, screenwriting books, structural formulas – and even our own constantly shifting thoughts about our writing – without any sense of how these supposed “improvements” actually fit with our real goals for this particular screenplay, or how they’re all supposed to fit together into a unified whole. That’s why it’s so important to focus on one goal at a time. Let that goal become the North Star for your revision. The one ring to rule them all. The only action item on your check list and the only thing your brain needs to focus on in this phase of the process. This allows you to calm the many anxieties that come with rewriting a script, the feeling that you’re wrestling with something so much bigger than you can keep in your head, where everything is so interconnected that you pull one string and the whole tapestry can fall apart. It reminds you that you’re not trying to build the whole tapestry all at the same time. You’re just trying to follow this one string and see where it takes you, until you understand it so fully that you can intuitively recognize how it fits with all the other strings around it. So, if you’re working on your dialogue and you suddenly realize that you’ve got problems with your action, your structure, or your formatting, that’s okay! You’re not trying to fix everything right now. You’re just following this one little string. The wonderful and ironic thing about focusing on only one goal at a time is that oftentimes changes in one little string of your screenplay end up leading to vast improvements in other areas of your story. Because every element of a screenplay is so deeply interconnected, a revision focused on the specificity of your main character’s dialogue may inspire all kinds of new insights into who your character is, the nature of their journey, the hook of your movie, or even the way you write the action lines. And if the screenwriting gods gift you with such inspiration, by all means accept that gift!  Write the scene, rewrite the action, restructure the story, capture that turning point. But remember, these new flashes of inspiration are only the bi-products of your clear, objective goal. The icing on the cake, but not the cake itself. So, if you’re feeling inspired, chase that inspiration. But if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or distracted by all the possibilities, look back at your North Star, and remember what your goal is for this draft of the revision. You’ll have plenty of time to look at all the other possibilities later and, oftentimes, be pleasantly surprised at how a tiny change to the dialogue in Act 1 has suddenly pulled that turning point you were so worried about at the end of Act 4 into perfect focus. But if you turn out to be not so lucky, at least you can set a new goal for the next revision, knowing that the foundation of the previous goal has already been fully explored and established. You now know where that string leads, and can draw upon that knowledge as you follow the next one.
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  • REVISION TIP #1 – 10 Things to Know About Revision

    October 2, 2014

    10 Things To Know About Revision

    By Jacob Krueger

    Are you dreading your rewrite? If so, you’re not alone. Everyone knows that writing is rewriting. But for many writers, the rewriting process can feel so overwhelming that it’s hard to hold onto that creative spark that made the script worth writing in the first place. So, before you abandon ship and confine that half written script to the obscurity of your desk drawer, check out this series of articles. Each week, we’re going to be discussing a simple thing you can do right now to breathe life into your rewrite, and make the process not only effective, but also fun! #1 – Never Rewrite Without a Goal As any of you who have taken my Write Your Screenplay class know, a character without a goal is like a car without an engine.  You can polish it up all you’d like, but it’s not going to go anywhere. And just like our characters, if we’re going to be successful in our revisions, we’ve got to make sure we’re effective in our goal setting, not only for our characters, but also for ourselves.  That means setting a clear, objective goal for each draft of our screenplay, which allows no debate over whether or not it’s been achieved. For example, depending on what phase we’re in of a revision, we might set a goal like one of these:
    • Make sure the main character is driving the action of every scene.
    • Find lines of dialogue that feel a little familiar and either cut them or make them more specific to the character.
    • Chart out the 7 Act Structure of the character’s change.
    • Make sure the action on the page captures each image exactly the way you see it in your head.
    What’s great about goals like these is that you can know if you’ve achieved them. Instead of wasting your energy panicking about whether your script is good or not, you can watch it evolve in front of your eyes, knowing that each draft is that much better than the one that came before. Rather than feeling like you’re trying to juggle a million deadly chainsaws that you simply have to fix in your script all at the same time, you can devote all your focus to the one thing that is most important for the draft you’re working on right now. Rather than basing your feeling of success as a writer on things that are beyond your control, like having a good writing day, selling a script or winning an Academy Award, you’re basing it on a simple area of focus that will not only grow your script, but also vastly grow your abilities as a writer, with every script you write in the future. So if you’re working on a rewrite of a screenplay, an act, or even just a scene, take a moment to clear your mind of all the things you’ve been told you have to do, all your fears about getting to the end, finishing, not finishing, selling your script, or having talent as a writer. Instead, think about what this screenplay is really about for you, and set a clear, objective goal for the one thing that’s most important for you to achieve to take the script to the next level. In early drafts, or early phases of your career, it may be hard to identify what the most important thing to focus on might be, or to separate the many conflicting things you’ve been told to do from the ones that really matter to you. Trust your instincts, or seek out the advice of a mentor you trust. What matters is that you choose one goal to focus on, and frame it in a way that you can know if you’ve achieved it, regardless of the shifting winds of your own (or anybody else’s) subjective opinions. That way you can know you are succeeding in each phase of your revision, whether this is your final draft, or just one of many along the way.
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  • REVISION TIP #1 – 10 Things to Know About Revision

    October 2, 2014

    Are you dreading your revision? You’re not alone. Everyone knows that writing is rewriting.

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