The Writers Store e-Zine just published my article, “Writing for Editing”. To read the full article go to the November issue and page down to the second article.
Here’s an excerpt:
The buck stops with the editor.
Dede Allen, A.C.E. Edited Dog Day Afternoon, The Breakfast Club, Reds, Henry & June and many others.
Editors are often called the last re-writers of the show. Another way to put this is that the editor is the architect of the show. Our blueprint is the script (or outline on a nonfiction show). Our building materials are the footage: long shots, wide shots, medium shots, close ups, over-the shoulders, inserts, raking shots, reverses, master shots, and two-shots. From these we design the show with sound, dialogue, music, and the placement and duration of the shots. Just as a bridge transports travelers from bank to bank with good design and construction, so good editing conveys viewers from the beginning of the show to the end by giving them what they need to see, hear, and experience along the way to get there.
There’s the picture that’s written, the picture that’s shot and the picture’s that’s edited.
So why not write for editing?
How do I do this, you ask. Here are a few suggestions:
Editors write not in words but with images and sound. So mentally run your script in your head. This will also help sell your script and guide the director in shooting it.
Make sure your story is strong and clear
I remember working on an MOW where the lead editor and I took the project but found the story murky as written. The producer and well-known director loved the script and the story and were awed by all the research that the writer had done on the subject. During shooting, they realized the story wasn’t making sense or paying off. They called the writer, asking for some re-writes. The writer was affronted. The calls became increasingly unproductive and antagonistic. During post, the writer loved the show as shot and edited but it made no sense to anyone else. Some VO was added, there were extra screenings, and editing ran two weeks over but the movie was not saved. And the writer substituted a familiar roman a clef for their actual name in the credits.
To read more, go to the November issue of the Writer’s Store E-Zine.
Editing & screenwriting