Archive for March 19th, 2009


3. Rewrite and Edit: Writing is only rewriting. After you finish writing whatever it is you’re writing, revisit it. Not once, not twice, but many times. After my morning fifteen minute writing routine and before I begin working for the day, I revisit whatever I have written the previous day. I edit it, rewrite it and then move forward. There are days when I rewrite ALL that I have written on the previous day.

Be merciless when cutting/slashing stuff. Writers tend to fall in love with stuff they have written and resist all attmepts to slash it, especially self-imposed. I fought my book editor tooth and nail on every change she suggested, especially if it involved cutting several paragraphs. I threw tantrums at the thought of removing several hundred words I had spent days writing.

And this, after having so much experience in writing screenplays. Screenplays, as you well know, are bound by time constraints. You only have about two hours to tell your story. That is, a 100 pages. In Hollywood the acceptable length is 120 pages. But in Bollywood we have to leave scope for songs.

As you can see, there is really no scope for any flab in the writing. If you spend two precios pages just exposing the character, that is two pages less for telling your story. Try to define your character while moving the story forward.

The good news is that as you become more proficient you require less rewriting. You instinctively know what is usable is what is not. Having said that, don’t let that stop you. Wander aimlessly if nothing worthwhile emerges. It will, eventually.

Remember to save changes in different drafts. Never throw out stuff. You never know when you might want to re-insert something you had edited out earlier.

4. Be persistent: Most writers that make it aren’t the ones with talent but the ones with tenacity. There are many unfinished authors out there who have ‘a great story’ in their minds but nothing on paper. No paper, no screenplay/book.

There are many I know who started writing the screenplay/book, only to abandon is midway. After talking with me they get all charged up and aim to restart the exercsie. But guess what. It’s not so easy. Time has passed, they have lost touch with the story. It is just too much hard work to revisit the work from the beginning all over again. They get disheartened and abandon the work yet again.

It’s like quitting smoking all over again. Why put yourself through this pain? Why not finish it in one go?

I laugh when I read my first screenplay or my first book. The writing is too amateurish and the ‘effort to impress’ shows. But I never run myself down. At least I finished whatever I began. Some day I may rewrite them.

While writing anything, about midway I usually encounter a block when nothing worthwhile comes. I suspect everybody does at some point when they are not sure which way to progress the story forward. This is usually where they abandon the exercise. My advice is don’t. Labour away at it. Eventually something will emerge.

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