|Don't try to get this through the door as a novice.|
Now in a perfect world those readers would be benevolent angels with unlimited time on their hands and they’d read everything regardless of pesky little length/format/spelling issues. They would focus solely on your story and would surely discover the amazing tale you’ve woven in your 120 page script. But that’s just not the way it works. There are barriers, filters, hurdles, doors – when starting out, you need to do everything in your power to get past those barriers to qualify for even the smallest hint of a chance.
So how then do you cut a great script down to size? Unfortunately, it'll probably entail some of that dreadful “killing your darlings” bit. But wait! Before you do that ... when I read scripts I often find that I can easily cut up to 10 pages by simply applying the crisp screenwriting style we should all live and breathe. Easy examples are:
- cut everything that won’t be seen or heard on the screen – how often do you read stuff like “Joe, the long-lost brother of …” Cut it, you’ll reveal that in the story.
- slash everything that smacks of exposition – show, don’t tell.
- and slice everything that can be condensed – things like “The night is dark, the fog creeps in eerily, the tall willows sway ominously in the wind. Joe looks around nervously…” instead try “Blackest night, it couldn’t be creepier... “
I love cutting. I love the challenge of condensing a two para line into a high-impact five word sentence. If you do that – if you go over your script with that cutting drive, you’ll be surprised just how many pages you’ll be able to shave off your script. Well then – if you’re at 120 – try the above "easy ways" before cutting story elements – you may just find that you won’t have to kill all of your darlings.