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Writing in circles.

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I have forty pages written for a spec script called Remnants, and the big finish for the fourth act has yet to be written, yet I've nearly written an hours worth of material. As one can tell, I have a problem.

One hour dramas (SciFi specs fit the mold) only run about 48 pages total. What it boils down to is I have at least 11 pages worth of material I need to delete in order to fit in the story's end, while still maintaining the three existing act breaks.


The first group represents the 2-4 page teaser, and each of the following four groups represent the four acts.

The double B's above represent where the act breaks are, essentially the last few pages of each act right before the commercial breaks, usually a miniature cliffhanger. The dilemma I have right now is there are 4-6 pages in the first act that aren't essential to the story. If I delete them outright, I have to replace them, or the act breaks will not line up anymore.

With pages missing from the first act, you can see all the act breaks now come far too soon, and the first act is too short. The only real options are to replace the deleted pages, or rewrite all subsequent acts so the act breaks come later than they did originally.

I thought perhaps that if I broke the script down into one line descriptions for each scene/group of joined scenes, I could better see what I didn't need to trim it's overall size, and shuffle them around to patch in the gaps I'd be creating in the process. It worked insofar as showing me the insignificant (though much loved) bloat that I could safely remove without effecting the story too badly. Unfortunately, I seem to write in too linear a fashion, and there isn't really anything that could be moved to another place without creating continuity errors.

I'm sure experience will help in stopping these situations from happening in the future, because it's a royal pain.
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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.