Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The best free lesson on revision -- and it's FUN. (Non-writers, read this too!)

At some point, your favorite book was just a crappy first draft.

[Hope floods aspiring authors everywhere.]

Most writers would love to see this rough copy AFTER reading the brilliant finished product, to learn what changes brought the text to that publishing-worthy level of awesome.

No, I'm not offering a bunch of never-before-seen drafts of novels. But what about movie scripts?

Yes, scripts are a whole different ballgame, and they offer a different set of challenges and limits (aka nothing internal and a boatload of showing-not-telling). BUT they still build a world with appealing characters and a plot that hooks you.

What if I told you that originally, in 10 Things I Hate About You
(aka the PERFECT teen movie*) ...
Kat and Bianca had a mom named Sharon who still was married to their father, and she was the erotica writer in the movie -- not Ms. Perky, the guidance counselor?
" 'Undulating with desire...' "

That Patrick (the adorable Heath Ledger) sang "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family to woo Kat back -- instead of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"? (And there was no high school band backing him up, thus denying us the brilliance of the scene.)

That the beginning was completely different?

That some of your favorite lines ... weren't there? Or were spoken by a different character?

And that doesn't even cover the altered characters and extra scenes.

Together, these small changes affect the overall feel and effectiveness of the movie. More significantly, Kat and Bianca's mom's absence, which happened in Kat's freshman year of high school, shapes who the sisters are -- and how their lovable-but-insanely-paranoid obstetrician father parents them. Cutting this character added depth to the entire Stratford family -- and having Ms. Perky be the erotica author made her even more hilarious.

Mr. Stratford: Kissing isn't what keeps me up to my elbows in placenta all day long.


Anyway, Daily Script has a TON of movie scripts in every genre at varying stages of revision. Pick your favorite movie, the one you can quote backwards and forwards, and see what might have been if it hadn't been revised over and over again. Analyze how it was made stronger and what you wished they hadn't cut/changed. And laugh and cry at all the best parts, because reading scripts can be just as fun as watching the movie.

Talk about learning by example.

Anyway, here's the link to that version of the 10 Things script. And for added learning fun, here's a TV Tropes list of tropes in the movie. (Proving that you can, in fact, use recognizable character and plot elements to your advantage by giving them your own twist.)

You can thank me later. Or now, in the comments. Now's good. :0)

What movie(s) are you going to read?
* Feel free to argue with me here. What do you think is the perfect teen movie (or TV show)?


  1. What a great post! And timely, too, as I am working on my first draft and hoping some day to be able to turn this crap into sheer brilliance.

    I agree that 10 Things is one of THE BEST movies ever. I teach Taming of the Shrew, so I get to show it in class every year (we all just pretend the dick on the face scene doesn't happen).

    The only movie better for me is Clueless. I love everything about that movie. (That was way harsh, Tai.)

    Which goes to show that the best teen movies are the ones based on classic literature. :-)

  2. Great post!!!! And 10 Things does have so many great lines and characters, it just goes to show how editing makes a piece shine. Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I just watched that movie last week! I love it!
    Thanks for the link, I'll definitely be checking it out!

  4. Oooh, I love little facts like this! I adore this movie. It's one of the best teen films. :)

  5. Oh, this is good. It's amazing how small changes can alter the effect of a piece. So, yes:

    Thank you ;)

  6. No arguments. I LOVE this movie. And it is encouraging to know how much it changed. Thanks for the reminder. *Happy sigh*

  7. Jessica - Yes! I always love movies based on books. And Clueless is brilliant too, great choice.

    One Pushy Fox - 10 Things is one of my favorite movies to quote.

    MeganRebekah - I could watch that movie a million times.

    Michelle - It's taking all of my willpower not to look up like 15 other scripts to see what changed and actually focus on revising my own novel today!

    Carolina - Hehe, you're welcome.

    Catherine - I'm so ready to bust out my DVD and watch it again. *Happy sigh* right back atcha!

  8. Cool post! I love learning that things like that are out there :-)

    "I'm thinking of getting a Tercel. Yeah, it's a Toyota."

  9. Great post! It seems a lot of writers have been down on their drafts lately, so I think this will help.

  10. I've actually read this screenplay! It's fun to see how different everything becomes.


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