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Writing Diary: Sharpening My Machete



I started cutting last week, and it proved to be a little more difficult than I anticipated it would be. My original draft of the script came in at a whopping 150 pages, and with all of the dialogue that I had in it, I figured that cutting out 30 pages would be a piece of cake. I started reading a hard copy of the script last week with a red pen in my hand and boldly and heartlessly crossed out anything that I didn’t think was imperative to the telling of the story. I spent the better part of the day on Saturday doing this, and once I was finished, I transcribed all of those changes in to the draft on my computer. I figured I was probably a bit short of the number of pages I needed to cut, and I’m using Celtx, so I need to create the script as a pdf in order to get an accurate page count. But I was not prepared for the number I saw once I did that.


That’s right. It was 142 pages. I had spent the better part of two days cutting eight whole pages from a script that had been 150 pages. So after an hour of cursing and throwing things around, I decided that it was time to break out the machete. I knew that Act 1 was roughly 30 pages, so I didn’t focus a whole lot of attention there. Likewise, I knew that Act 3 was under 30 pages, so very little was cut from there. I knew my problem was in Act 2, which started around page 30 and didn’t end until around page 110.

So this morning, I opened up the laptop and went to work with my virtual machete.

And let me tell you, there were some tough cuts. There were scenes that, standing on their own, were terrific scenes. The dialogue was crisp and they were excellent character moments. But there were other places in the script where we were getting the same information.

They had to go.

I came across sections of dialogue that, on their own, were funny and entertaining. But when taken in context of the script, they slowed the story down and ultimately made the script weaker.

They had to go.

And so away they went. I actually started on it yesterday, but did the bulk of the work this morning. When I finished, I created another pdf and I saw a much more pleasant number.


That includes the title page, and page 127 is only about a quarter of a page, so I now only have about another 6 and a half pages to cut. I also had to keep in mind that Act 1 and Act 3 are still the right length, and that most of the cutting is going to have to come from the first half of Act 2. The reason for that is that I still have to keep the script on track structurally, and I have a scene that acts as the mid point of Act 2. Currently that scene happens on page 70, and Act 2 ends around page 100. That means that I have to cuy 8-10 pages between pages between pages 30 and 70. That will leave me with a script that’s roughly 117 pages, but the act breaks will fall in the correct places.

I will do my best to knock this out tonight because I just got a script to cover today, and I’d like to have all of this work done before I go to bed on Wednesday so that I can enjoy the holiday weekend.

We’ll see what happens.

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