Trimming the Fat

Thanks to John August and Craig Mazin for an educational  Scriptnotes podcast today. They touched on an issue I have been tussling with for the last day or so while working on a comedy screenplay — how to tighten up my scene description, yet find a balance between being too spare and too wordy.  It’s hard not to describe in great and luscious detail each  scene I see so clearly in my head.   My scene description needs to be pretty lean since this is comedy.  Last night I did a lot of editing through my first 50 pages and discovered that I had been playing director a bit too much.  Excessive details that didn’t need to be there were just ripe for cutting.  Once I saw that, it was pretty easy to trim down and tighten things up.  Lots of progress.  Great feeling!

So one other thing about the Scriptnotes today that I LOVED was the grammar discussion — verb choices, and which verbs could take a direct or indirect object.  The Speech Therapist and grammar nerd in me went nuts!  Love that stuff.  Heck, I was the 6th grade accelerated level English diagramming champ.  No one could defeat me.  I was the teacher’s pet.  Mrs. McCamy sent us up to the board two at a time for diagramming show-downs, and I always emerged as the victor.  That was my one and only taste of what it must be like to win at sports.  (Insert tiny violin music.)  Thanks, Mrs. McCamy!

Scriptnotes also reminded me of the NY Times article about how comedian Myq Kaplan fine-tuned a joke over time into a more perfect form.  That elusive, perfect combination of words that will elicit just the right emotion?  That’s really our ultimate goal as writers, isn’t it?


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