be prepared to kill your darlings

Work on the new script progresses. This time I’m writing it out of chronological order. I have my outline, and I’m picking scenes to write based on what I’m trying to achieve with the characters. This is working out better than I expected. There’s a benefit to writing the important, emotional scenes in the film first. It sets the tone for the movie. Unexpected threads appear quickly. Maybe it’s because my intent for this script is so clear, while for my last one I had to re-write it numerous times before I even know what I was trying to say.

Today I wrote a terrific scene.

It was a rush to write. In an unusual move I got Martin to read it after it was done. He agreed it was good. I love the character dynamics, how they express themselves, and what they do.

This is not good.

Already I can foresee heartache over this one. It’s only the first draft, for fuck’s sake. I shouldn’t fall in love with my script this early. In all likelihood at some point I’ll have to re-write the scene or scrap it. Or, if it is ever made, I can imagine the actors changing the lines, or the director telling me to alter its essence.

Most screenplays are changed for a variety of reasons: budget, location, content, creative decisions, etc. You have to be prepared to re-work every scene if you want to make it better.

I want to keep my mind open for the possibility of excellence in every scene.

That won’t happen if certain scenes become rigid and inflexible in my mind.

So, as much as I like this scene now, I have to be prepared to slaughter or mutate it later for the greater good.

It’s only a sacrifice if it breaks your heart to murder it.

I will wield the knife gladly if it’s for the right reasons.


  • Scott the Reader

    Too bad screenplays can’t be like DVDs, where you can toss in the deleted scenes that didn’t really fit, but which you want people to appreciate anyway. Would make it a lot easier to let scenes go.

  • Maura

    Yeah, all those well-crafted (or crafty) words, taut scenes, and great action sequences would get the audience they deserve. I’ll make no mention of the stuff that deserved the chop. 😉