LB: Another Reason the Endless Rewrite Cycle Sucks


Saw this pic on the interwebs the other day, and it immediately brought to mind the writer’s version of the situation.

Careful who you listen to, kids. Nothing’s more aggravating than rewriting something that doesn’t really need it.

If I’m pleased with something I’ve written, I never ask anyone to read and comment. Not even the brilliant writers who are my friends. I just turn it in and wait for the check.

Sometimes I experience that nagging, “I dunno, something’s just not right” feeling in the back of my brain. Because of the kind of guy I am, I usually ignore it and turn in the script – or the article or the story or the book – as is. I do this because I know that whomever is paying for it is going to want to have something to sayanyway, and maybe – just maybe – what they say will help.

If I get lucky, my buyer will indeed spot the problem, which will force me to actively search for – and find – a solution. If I’m a little luckier, he or she may actually have a fix that works. I’ll know it works because when I’ve tried it my mind will stop squeezing my soul and I’ll feel my whole being relax.

The rewrite will have been worthwhile. The experience will have been truly productive.

But if, after I’ve turned in something I’ve written, I feel fine about it and the buyer starts coming up with changes, well, that’s one of those situations where no matter how efficiently I make those changes, the experience will still be a total waste. And not only will the work show that, but my being will know it and kick me in the ass.

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Screw it!” to a critic and sticking to your guns.

Just make sure you’ve got a few bucks put away.


Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

One thought on “LB: Another Reason the Endless Rewrite Cycle Sucks”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I once wrote and directed an industrial for a large [unnamed here] aviation industry corporation. They loved the finished product.

    Then they started asking for changes. I was stuck – I’d promised to give them what they wanted. So even though they initially loved it, they started “playing with it” – at MY expense. I could’ve said, “No way,” but I wanted them to like what I made for them and even ask me to do another one.

    The problem was: They made changes without understanding story structure. They lost sight of who their audience was. The more they changed, the worse it got. Finally they LOVED it – sure, they felt their hands were in it. Yeah, right. They were engineers, not storytellers. And no matter how I explained how their changes were screwing up the whole thing, they persisted. I never showed the “final” version to anyone, of course.

    The point: EVERYONE will have an opinion about what you write. Everyone. Believe in your work. Stand your ground. Be willing to walk away.

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