The Rewriting Process – Story

Here is the next post from Hal Croasmun’s Proseries classes on rewriting.

Ensure the story works. Brilliant dialogue in a poorly structured script is a bad script. Story covers concept, structure, theme, character, dialogue and plot.

Provide meaning beneath the surface (subtext). Are the following elements clearly defined:

Opening, Inciting Incident, Act 1 turning point, Mid point, Act 2 turning point, Crisis, Climax, Resolution, Final page.

Present your audience/ reader with an unforgettable CONFLICT. Our forebears in Ancient Greece defined drama in terms of conflict; opposing viewpoints each battling to win. The key ingredient is creating an EMOTIONAL DILEMMA where the protagonist needs to decide on one perilous journey to pursue from a range of equally perilous ones.

A key stumbling block for most writers is finding their story. What message to you really want communicate? Judd Apatow’s film “Bridesmaids” was in development for years before they identified on what the movie was really about. It’s about the excruciating lengths woman go to to create the perfect wedding, rather than the marriage itself.

If you’re unsure about your story, summarize it in one page, outlining all the story beats mentioned above until the story works. Ensure the outline is the best expression of your idea. Use your logline and one page summary to keep your story on track. If you deviate from your outline (as I always do), when the story takes a different trajectory, rewrite your one page. This means you are still finding your story; what you want to say and how to best say it.

List your SUBPLOTS. Do they enhance your main plot or detract from it? If the latter, remove them. The plots probably belong in a separate movie. Subplots should intersect the main plot several times in your story and culminate at the resolution.

More tomorrow…


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