How do you rewrite or edit a story? In his book, Screenwriting, Raymond G Frensham, offers six types of focus associated with the rewriting of a screenplay: comprehension, structure, characters, dialogue, style, and polishing. Although opinions differ about the exact number and order of rewrites, Frensham’s view offers some useful insights for novelists too.
In this post we examine the first stage of the rewriting process and offer some suggestions for implementing the process. I will be looking at the other stages in future posts.
“Commence the rewrite by asking a series of questions in order to expose the strengths and weaknesses of your story.”
The First Rewrite: Enhancing Comprehension
In seeking to make your story as understandable as possible, ask the following questions:
1. Is my story the best vehicle for expressing my dramatic and emotive intent? Would changing the setting or characters or genre improve the impact and effectiveness of my tale?
2. What information does the audience need to know in order to understand the story? Is the information revealed at the appropriate stages?
3. Can I strengthen the story by more strongly referencing its genre, for example, does my action film contain enough action, my love story enough love (or hate), etc.?
4. Are my characters’ actions motivated by their situation, background, and personality type?
5. Have I chosen the right structure for the type of story I’m writing? Is a three-act structure the best vehicle for my particular tale, or would a two, four, or five act-structure be better?
6. Whose story is it? In other words, through whose eyes is the audience experiencing the story?
The process of completing a screenplay involves several stages, each with its own focus and tasks. This post examines the first stage of the rewrite, namely, enhancing story comprehension.