Here are extracts from Hal Croasmun’s Proseries classes on the purpose of a rewrite. I will break it up into eight consecutive daily posts to give you time to digest the information.
For 95% of writers, rewriting is simply an editing process; correct a typo, change a word, shorten a line or remove a space. In essence they wordsmith their scripts. This is the polish not the rewrite. For the screenwriting elite, rewriting is a vital overhaul of your script. Racing your go cart is different to building it.
The key function of a rewrite is to massage your screenplay into a well oiled go cart that will outrace its competitors. It must be outstanding to get noticed. OK is no longer good enough.
Rewriting must also:
FULFILL YOUR VISION
This is a combination of nailing your concept (a familiar story with your unique take on it (hook)) and also determining your desired outcome. Do you want to market it as a spec script, a sale, to win a contest, write a paid or assignment or is it a personal story meant for your eyes only? The focus will be slightly different for each.
SOLVING THE PROBLEMS
Is there a single identifiable theme? Is the genre clear and consistent? Does the story engine work? Attach the problems at the level (or before) they occur. I personally do minimal rewrites. Whenever I sense a problem in the script, I stop writing, identify and solve the problem before I continue writing. For many writers, their first draft is a deliberate mess which is crafted into a well told story.
ELEVATING THE QUALITY
The paradoxical nature of Hollywood has created a situation where producers are complaining about the dearth of quality material, yet don’t open the gates to new material. Did you engage your reader in the opening scene or is your story a series of talking heads discussing the story and backstory? Are the stakes high enough and rising?
Not only do you have to construct a great story. It also needs to be a great read. Bookend your story with a powerhouse opening scene (so the reader keeps reading) and closing scene (so the reader won’t forget it).