I’ve always been a tad perplexed by the age old writing advice that “writing is rewriting.” “No great writer ever penned a masterpiece in his rough draft,” writing experts would say. This may be soothing advice for the many times I’ve completed a screenplay and while beaming with pride, I’d suddenly have my dreams of Hollywood schmoozing and houses in the hills ripped away when I read what I’d written and realized it was mostly just a heap of (insert whatever foul smelling waste you can think of here).
Although I was comforted in those lonely, depressing moments of supposed personal failure by the idea that I could always rewrite, fix the problem; the fact is that my track record shows I rarely get passed the thrill of writing a first draft, meeting the characters and learning their ways, and onto the hair-pulling, eye-gouging editing process that is required to polish a story into something worth selling.
Friends, family, peers, fellow writers, and Hollywood execs everywhere, I’m proud to inform you that I have a rewritten feature-length screenplay on my hands. This one is different from the other attempted rewrites I’ve done in the past. This time I actually fixed what I set out to revise, added scenes where I deemed necessary, and molded existing pages into well-crafted works.
“How the hell did you do that, Greg Probst?” you might be screaming at your computer but probably not since you may not have any clue who I am. (I’m the author of this blog.)
But I’ll tell you anyway; this monumental milestone in my writing career comes after months of going back to the basics. I’d studied and read about how to plan, write, and format a screenplay for years when I was a teenager and realized I wanted to write movies. Since then I considered myself an old pro, writing away and leaving hard drives and floppy discs (yes I used those religiously when I first started writing and well after they went technologically extinct) full of over a hundred or more aborted screenplays; some with 5-10 pages, some with 30-60, others well exceeding the 120-page feature limit, all needing additional work that would never come.
So I analyzed my writing methods and even picked up the very first book I read as a 13-year-old lad to get started, Skip Press’ The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting. I reread sections on outlining before writing, keeping a writing schedule, and tips on rewriting. So I started keeping a writing schedule and zeroed in on a few top scripts that needed work or finishing.
As of today I have one feature nearing completion and another that is successfully rewritten and being looked over for polishing. It feels like I’m a real live writer.
So what’s next for old Greg “The Writer” Probst? Probably years and years of writing and mastering the craft with hopefully some success in between.