I don’t know how many times over the years that I’ve recommended to writer friends and fiction writing students to read their work out loud. Not only will you catch every typo and grammar glitch, but you’ll be able to hear the ring and rattle of the words in your head.
Now that a tiny bit of screenplay success has me focusing all my writing efforts on scripts, you’d think I would have carried this bit of advice over to this other medium.
Right now I’m revising a script with a healthy dose of feedback from producers, hoping that they’ll pull the trigger and decide to make this film. This script features a very, very long eulogy delivered in the first scene. The extended monologue up front breaks all the conventions of filmmaking, which is one reason I’ve had such good feedback. It’s a well written speech, if I do say so myself. And it doesn’t slow down the film at all.
You’d think I would have read this eulogy out loud before now. I first penned this scene almost two years ago. I’m on draft 7 according to the file name on my Word document, but it’s more likely draft 20 for this specific scene. And I’ve never read it out loud. Until now.
It’s early morning, and I affected my best cheesy Irish accent and read the scene. I’ve sliced it down again and again, and they seem to think it’s still too long. It’s half its original size. I read it out loud, and I cut it some more. That was the first time I’ve ever read an extended passage from one of my scripts. This in a medium that is mostly dialog.
Isn’t that ridiculous? That should be your first step upon revision. Read the whole friggin thing. I wonder how often we ignore our own platitudes.