Murdering Darlings

We’re currently in the middle of a polish on our first collaboration, Moray Creek. All in all, it’s going well – I’d kind of forgotten what a fun script this was.

I was sort of hoping to find some scenes that could be excised completely. Back when we started writing, most of the advice we’d seen as far as screenplay length advocated “somewhere around, but not more than 120 pages.”

Since then, we’ve seen a lot of advice suggesting shorter scripts – closer to 100 pages. Most of the argument for this seems to be “people who read scripts are happier to read something short than something long,” which is fairly persuasive. Our last couple scripts have been much closer to 100 pages than 120, but our early ones are still sitting almost exactly at 120 pages.

I think we’ve been able to cut out maybe two or three pages so far, and we’ve certainly been doing a lot of work on cleaning up action description, removing repetitive verbal tics, and cutting superfluous bits. Sadly, this has also led to at least one case of cutting out a favorite line of dialogue.

When escaping from the eel invasion, our teen protagonists are debating whether to get out of town or go find Lily’s dad. Keith offers the following argument for the former:

Yeah, I don’t think so. You know why? Look around you! Just look around you! The answer is “eels.”

This made us laugh pretty much every time we read it, but, in the end, it’s sort of hard to justify pointless Look Around You references. Cut it.

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