Garry Marshall on Rewriting

A big tip of the TVWriter™ hat to screenwriter-blogger Scott Smith for reminding us this great book exists:

Offensive & Defensive Screenwriting (Tip #62) – by Scott W. Smith

“The biggest lesson a screenwriter can learn is how to master a rewrite of his own script, or someone else’s, and make the change a studio wants without destroying the story. It’s like a football game: If you think of writing an original screenplay as ‘offensive’ creativity, then rewriting is all about ‘defensive’ creativity.

There are some screenwriters who are great on offense while others excel only at defense. The greatest screenwriters–and the ones who are in demand—are those who can handle both kinds of creativity. The problem I’ve found is that young writers usually change too much in a rewrite and old writers often don’t change enough. What writers should remember is to read a first draft or a rewrite twice, not once but twice, before handing it in. First read it for pacing and plot, and then read it a second time to see if there are good parts for the stars, because that’s exactly how the stars are going to read it.”

Garry Marshall, Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)
pages 114-115

Read it all (not the book, the blog post)

5 thoughts on “Garry Marshall on Rewriting”

  1. WOW! GARY MARSHALL! A name from the past if there ever was one. (always wanted to say that:) How many times Quinn would say, “Why don’t you get Gary Marshall in here to pitch a story.” And I’d reply (meekly(: “Gary Marshall won’t pitch!” “Then give ‘im the story I gave you, that you aren’t doing shit with!” “I did shit with it, Quinn, you didn’t like it.”
    Whadda way to make a livin’. gs

    1. Actually, ger, it was thrice, but now it’s nonce. (?!)

      There you go. Firsthand experience with Larry Brody’s editing skills. And you thought I’d never amount to anything!



  2. If you’re lucky you can get someone else to read it a third time before turning it in. I always miss stuff.

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