A Question About The First Draft

Question: When they say your first draft of a film script is bad, what do they mean, and how many drafts do you need until it is perfect?

Answer: “They” who, exactly?

A first draft is exactly that: bleeding out your idea onto the page to see if it’s worth its weight in pixels. Birthing is not a pretty process.

No first draft is bad. Even a bad first draft isn’t bad. It’s an accomplishment. It’s a goal the writer achieved. It’s something the writer wrote.

Do screenplays get rewritten? Yep. All the time. I do it. I do it for others. Every screenwriter rewrites. There’s a reason rewrites and polishes are written into every contract I’ve signed.

To correct some misconceptions:

  • “Bad” doesn’t mean a first draft is poorly structured.
  • “Bad” doesn’t mean a first draft is terribly written.
  • “Bad” doesn’t mean a first draft needs lots of work.
  • There is such a thing as a perfect script. How do I know? Because I’ve been paid. If I get paid, the screenplay is perfect.
  • Reading “well known successful screenplays” will not in any way shape, or form show anyone why their screenplay is “not a good script.”
  • Virtually every “well known successful screenplay” isn’t worth comparing to the screenplay you’ve written. Why? Because the screenwriter is also “well known” and he broke rules in his screenplay. You don’t suffer from the affliction of fame.
  • No screenwriter should ever “humble” themselves until they’re on stage accepting an Academy Award for Best Screenplay – and that humility should only last until the first drink at the first after party.

Finish your screenplay. Tweak it as much as you think you need to, get a table read or two under your belt, polish it, sell it. It’s NOT hard to do.

Hell, you already finished it, right?

See you out on the trails!

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