Cool, Cool, Considerate Revisions

“I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”-Truman Capote

We’ve been watching one of our favorite movies for 4th of July, 1776, but each night it drags more than we remember so it’s taking a few nights to finish it. We’ve watched this movie a million times, but as we’re watching we’ll get halfway through a scene and ask, “Has this always been in the movie? I don’t remember this.” And the reason we’re talking during the scenes is…they’re boring.

Turns out we’ve been watching the “theatrical” version (aka the extended version) of the movie. And boy is it an eye-opening reinforcement for the need and craft of good editing. There’s a reason some of the scenes were cut in the final version–they’re boring.

You can do this with any movie on DVD. We watched some of the deleted scenes in Pitch Perfect 1, and sure enough, it doesn’t take much time in a deleted scene to “get” why it was cut. And not all deleted scenes are boring. Some are hysterical, but still have a feeling of water circling a half-clogged drain. Not moving the story forward.

So last night, watching the extended version of one of my favorite songs in 1776, “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men“…and getting bored as it dragged on and on was a great reminder for the writer in me. Cut. Cut more. Cute to the bone.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King