About six weeks ago, I started receiving reviews of my first feature length screenplay, Pegasus Rampant. They had lots to say, a lot of it good, but also a lot of it critical.
But the good kind of criticism, the kind that was helpful. Pointing out the weak spots, the technical mistakes, and what to concentrate on in the next draft.
Well, the next draft has been completed. It meant going through it carefully and tightening up the dialogue, to eliminate repetition and extraneous words, and to make the pace speed up considerably. It surprised me how much of it was long and unwieldy and could be reduced to sometimes only a third as long.
One particular character was not intended to have a very strong arc to his story, but they drew my attention to how important it was for him in paticular to have one, so I added that in. It didn't take much to do it, and it really did make the story better and the relationships between the characters more realistic.
The fight and battle scenes needed to be expanded on. Just saying "they fight" and letting the stunt arranger fill in the blanks is not acceptable in a spec script, so I had no choice but to put in the additional detail that they needed. They're possibly still a little too thin, but they are good enough to show the main beats of the fight, and they add some character motivation too, so that's good. And another thing it did, unexpectedly, was let me add in an extra plot point that wasn't there originally, and which adds an interesting texture to the whole story and the world it's set in.
There was a lot more I did to fix it up too, but they were subtle things like changing a single word in the dialogue or description to help emphasise some character beats or add visual imagery to the scene.
There is still room for improvement. I recently bought a book about scriptwriting, and reading it will give me new insight into how characters can and should behave in a story to make it zing, so I will read through that and hopefully it will inspire me, perhaps to formulate character moments, and give it some energy where it needs it.
But the plot is just where I want it. I don't anticipate much of that changing in any further drafts. Most of my emphasis will be on strengthening the dialogue and characters.
One day I will figure all this story writing business out, and approach it already knowing what I'm doing. Who knows, I may even sell one some day.
4 days ago