On to the Advanced Class
By Aaron Walker Sr.
The advanced class was where things really got interesting. The class was down to only four weeks in length. On the surface this was a good thing, but in reality it meant you had a lot of work to do, and a short period of time to get it done.
The focus shifted from the mechanics of screenwriting, to matters of story and character development. The first hurdle was clear: The script was just too long. The first attempt at Cargo was meant to be a T.V. movie in hopes to get picked up as a full blown series, which was why the script was 117 pages. So Larry tasked me with trimming that bad boy down to no more than 90 pages.
Larry said: “Everyone always says that they can’t possibly cut anything from their scripts, but trust me, you can.”
One thing I learned is that every scene within an act must propel the story forward to its conclusion. So the first rule of thumb was simple: “If it doesn’t move the story forward, it probably doesn’t belong. Thus the hunt for the unnecessary within the script began (which we will discuss more next week).
Looking back, the thing that made the first script so hard to edit was that, though I had index cards, I never bothered writing a logline, leave-behind or outline prior to writing the script. Had I worked out the story using these tools, we would have not had to do so much rewriting later. The moral of the story? Plan before you write!
Next Week: Further Adventures in Rewriting