We’ve teamed up with aspiring screenwriter Ashlee Stormo to show you what screenwriting dreams look like in the real world. Today, she’s showing us how she edits her screenplays. Editing and rewriting can be a painful process for screenwriters; you may need to remove some of your favorite characters, kill brilliant dialogue, or completely rearrange your scenes to make the most compelling story. Ashlee learns a little more about editing with each completed script, and she’s sharing her key takeaways so far. What does your editing process look like? Share in the comments below!
"Hello friends! My name is Ashlee Stormo. I’m an aspiring screenwriter, and I wanted to share with you how I revisited my screenplay that I wrote about six months ago. I wanted to spruce it up for a contest that I was submitting it to, and I had a very small timeline.
Hello friends, and happy Monday. This week, I have so much screenwriting to do, so much editing to do. I’m actually working towards a contest deadline. This Sunday, I’m having my mom and dad read my script because it is inspired by them, so I want to make sure that I got all the details right, and they don’t have any objections. So, they can tell me what they do and don’t like. I have seven days to edit an entire screenplay.
The first thing that I did when I went about editing is I re-read. I gave myself two days to re-read everything and just make notes on problems that I had with character, with character development, with plot twists, with pacing, and with dialogue. Dialogue the thing that I struggle with the most, which sounds silly because that makes up most of the script. But, I find it a little more difficult to make characters sound different from one another because all of their voices are just coming from me. So, I tried to pay special attention to the dialogue. After I made that brainstorm bubble list, I set out a schedule so I know exactly how many pages I can write per hour, and I know exactly how many pages I can edit per hour. I took out my calendar, and I made a list for how much I had to do per day. And then, every single day, I just made myself edit that many pages.
While my computer is charging, I’m going to finish my notes for what I need to do for the rest of the week. Basically, if you’re reading my screenplay right now, it’s in chronological order, and I always knew I wanted it to be nonlinear, but I waited until the editing process to rearrange it, which I will never do again because that sucks. So, I’m basically breaking it up into a three-act chart, but I’m doing a three-act chart for the future and for the present to make sure that they both have the buildup that I’m looking for.
Drawing it out visually really helped me because I was able to see what scenes I should add in. I also cut so much. I cut probably, maybe half, 40 percent to 50 percent of my script, and I rewrote a lot of it very quickly. Some writing advice that I learned from an author by reading the little interviews that they do at the back of their books is she said you should never edit within the document. So, at work, I have my laptop, and then I also have the work desktop. So, I have two screens available to me. On my laptop, I would pull up my old script, and on the desktop, I would open up a new blank document and retype everything. By rewriting everything, it made me change details that I otherwise may not have noticed. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken the time to edit it. I think it really helps to just retype everything completely. You can do that without two desktops, too. You can do a split screen situation.
Hello friends, happy Friday. It’s Friday already. I’m supposed to be done with my screenplay by Sunday, and I am stressed out because I am not as far as I should be. Basically, why I’m so behind is because I have been spending some time adding in some scenes that I never got around to adding in. Other than the time constraints, it’s going well. I’m not stressed at all. When I was writing a book, I was stressed, because I was like, ugh, I have to do this. But, when it comes to this, it’s stressful because of the timeline because I want to work on it so much more and put so much more effort into it because I love it so much, and I want it to be good. So, the stress has good vibes. But, yeah, today I’m going to have to keep going. That whole trick of editing outside of the document instead of inside of the document, it really is adding so much time on to it, but it really is so worth it.
We’re in the last stretch until the deadline for a screenplay that I’ve been working on since September. And yes, I have procrastinated on editing the final, most important scene. So, I’m going to go to work. I’m going to work on editing my finals scene. I’ve asked over on my Instagram for people to let me know their favorite inspirational speech, from a graduation speech to a movie speech, cartoon, reel. What their favorite inspirational speech is, I’m going to binge maybe an hour’s worth of those, taking notes about the structure of what an inspirational speech looks like, and then I am going to quickly work on this project that I have, um, procrastinated on. We love it! We love it—a day in the life.
Then I went and edited it for the last time. Had my mom read it. She gave me notes. And then I really quickly (typing fingers) edited that and sent it into my contest. I’m open to still making more changes on it. I don’t think that just because I sent it in, that means that it’s 100 percent done, and there’s no room for improvement. I would love to go back.
From editing my first screenplay, I have a few takeaways.
1. Two screens are better than one.
2. Waiting six months to edit made me forget why I’d made certain choices. Three months max!
3. Definitely make sure some else reads it.
4. Don’t be precious about scenes: if it doesn’t add to the plot or character arc, cut it!
5. Figure out the structure before starting.
6. During the time period of editing, consume other content from the same genre.
Thank you so much for watching my take on editing. Make sure you’re following SoCreate. They’re fantastic. They’re a fantastic resource. They have a lot of tools that have helped me during the editing process. They even recommend scripts, and they have professionals give their advice. So, definitely make sure you’re following them. Thank you so much, good luck on your scripts!
Let me know downstairs your tips on editing, what you’re editing, and just whatever projects you’re working on. I would love to hear about it!"