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Rewrites: The 12 Things to Nail Before You Start

I love rewriting. I let myself hate it some of the time. But still, really I still have to love it. Rewriting is as exciting as original writing.

You have your story, settings, characters. Large kernels of everything you wanted your movie to be. It just needs thought, a plan, and then for the writer to get back on the keyboard or the pad and pen to make it great. If you've already written a first draft, the best draft is close. Rewriting is THE writing. It is the fun part and the agony, THE creative process in screenwriting. Sadly, there are very few automatic writers. Most of us have to start with a rough draft which we ought to celebrate before we analyze it, criticize it, and then rewrite it at least once, maybe several times.


Having an orderly process is crucial. Great scripts may require complicated revisions but the procedure ought to be manageable. My 12 THINGS TO NAIL DOWN BEFORE YOU START YOUR NEXT REWRITE webinar is a 90 minute on-demand online class which will help you organize, start and finish your next rewrite. It will help you build out rewrite practice you can utilize over and over again.

FACT OF LIFE: Plot and character development may seem effortlessly embedded in the best movies, but, most probably, the writer and filmmakers carefully constructed these elements over many drafts through the rewrite process.

Even with the most carefully structured beat sheet or story outline, it is almost impossible to write the best version of the script on the first pass. There may always seem to be missing dramatic scenes, incomplete sequences, unresolved character issues and emotions that beg to be explored.

“The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

Chill out, Ernest. It's not that bad. THERE IS A PROCESS TO REWRITING BUT ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. You will discover what works best for you. There are guidelines and a few requirements.

12 THINGS TO NAIL DOWN BEFORE YOU START YOUR NEXT REWRITE will teach you a system to work effectively and efficiently with your existing draft - on-demand webinar, so download now! 

Tom Benedek wrote the screenplay for Cocoon, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and other films. In addition to teaching the craft of screenwriting, Tom has interviewed dozens of agents, managers, production execs, working screenwriters for his Network Hollywood class at He has written screenplays for Robert Zemeckis, Lawerence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner and Richard Donner, Ray Stark, and many more.

Need Editing Tips? Get 5 Top Reasons to Take Rewriting Seriously plus our FREE Rewrite Checklist Download