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Trim the Fat

Remember that choice Sophie had to make? If she had asked the dude next to her to do it, he would've had a much easier time. But then Meryl Streep probably wouldn't have had as much to work with as an actor.

It's much easier for others to make choices for us, since they aren't emotionally invested in it. Your best friend in high school could probably see that the boob you were dating wasn't good for you, but you couldn't see it because you were too wrapped up in it.

What about when you're de-cluttering your basement? You might think that you really need that huge stack of magazines from three years ago, but your partner could probably tell you that you will never, never use them.

And what about that friend who always needs you when they're having a crisis, but then they disappear when everything's going fine? You might need an outsider to pack their bags and ship them off to Greenland for you, since you'll never be able to cut them out of your life on your own.

We think our stuff is so needed because we created it, or because it holds memories for us, or because we're too afraid to let go. But you can't keep everything. If you do, your social calendar will be full of selfish people, your basement will be full of magazines, and you'd still be dating that douchebag from 1994.

The same goes for writing. Your feature script should not be longer than 120 pages, and yet you have 140. "But I need all of those pages!" No, you don't. I promise. You don't need two scenes offering the same exposition. You don't need that scene just because it has that hilarious joke in it. And you don't need that 4th roommate for your protagonist who offers nothing that the other three don't already do.

There's a known saying in writing circles that sometimes you must "kill your darlings." That is to say, you must get rid of parts of your script you love if they don't serve the story.

Do those magazines serve your life? Marie Kondo that shit.

Does that douchebag from high school serve your life? Dump them.

Does that self-centered friend serve your life? Greenland is lovely this time of year.

If your script is over 120 pages, cut it down. I mean it. It's not 140 pages of awesome- it's, at best, 120 pages of awesome, and 20 pages of extra stuff you don't need. Don't let your emotional attachment to it cloud your judgment. Get an outsider's perspective, whether its mine, or a friend whose writing skills you trust.

Trim the fat, and your skinny script (and your life) will thank you for it.

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