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Day 274: Rewrites for Rewrites Writers Workshop

The days are ticking by faster than ever. I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since ScriptFest 2016. In the week following the conference, follow up letters were sent to the various industry professionals that either requested one-sheets or scripts. I didn’t respond immediately as I felt their in-boxes were probably inundated with such material. By waiting a few days, hopefully my submissions might stand out a bit and not get lost in the clutter. Of course, there is always the possibility that they may have been so overwhelmed by that point that no particular attention was paid to mine; they were just one of a gazillion others.

I started with the one sheets. Each person received a personally composed email reminding them of who I was and what personal connection we had made, if any, along with an attachment of any requested materials. The following day I did the same for script requests. With those letters I also included some additional background information on myself, any positive comments the script received in coverage notes, workshop information and a listing of any recognition the script had received in contests. In addition to the script, I also included the one sheet with cover art. The only script I did not send out was The Devil’s Tramping Ground. I’m currently engaged in a massive overhaul of the script, and I don’t want to send it prematurely.

Speaking of Tramping Ground, the rewrites are a little slower than I anticipated. Revising the non-linear format into a linear version has resulted in a number of scenes that were vastly too long. That means redistributing necessary information over different scenes. Information that is required to be up front is now sometimes located in scenes that don’t happen until much later in the new format. That means moving that information up into scenes where such information might not readily or realistically be made known in that particular situation. That has necessitated a virtual page one rewrite. It’s the same story and some of the dialogue can be salvaged, but has required a new mindset in how the story is told.

The result has been a front-loading of information that has pushed back the beginning of the scary stuff. This was confirmed at this evening’s reading. The comments were mostly very positive. The readers liked the development of the characters and the development of groundwork that hints at future events. Unfortunately, for a horror, they were left wanting as far as scary elements. The story is reading more like a thriller right now. They were interested and intrigued, but not scared. This would be a big disappointment for a paying audience. By the time the scares happen, the audience may have tuned out.

It looks like I have to cut about 10 pages from the first act to get the inciting incident to land right and get my characters to the Tramping Ground. The first act should probably end after the night spent at the Tramping Ground. Although that will end the act with a big bang, there might not be enough scares in the early part of the act to keep the audience hooked. I’m going to have to take a serious look at my structure to make this work. Maybe I’d be better off leaving it in the non-linear format. Once I get the first act where I think it should be, I may have to hold a reading of the entire act and not just 10 pages at a time. This would give me a good idea of whether or not the story is holding the audience’s interest as a horror.

But first, I’ve got to figure out that structure.

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