Here’s a tip that will work for just about every script, novel, short story, short film, movie or TV series.

You’ve just finished your draft. The story’s more or less there. But something’s not quite right. You look at it and you don’t know where to start editing. It’s not ready to send out to a professional script reviewer. It needs work – but what? And where?

Let me tell you in just a few short words. I don’t even have to read your script. I just know:

Cut the start

The opening is too long. You take too long to get into the story. Too many scenes before you establish the characters. Too many things are there to “set up” things that happen later.

How do I know? Because everyone does the same. Beginners and experienced. The difference is that the experienced writers know it and deal with it.

Get into it

Read through your script until you find where your story really starts. Not the bits you think you need to put in – where it actually gets going. There’s where you cut to. I don’t care if it’s page 3, page 30 or page 300.

Good stories dive straight in. Good stories grab you from the beginning with interesting, complex, active characters.

Cut the start of the script. And for good measure, cut the start of most scenes, cut the start of most speeches, cut all the explanation, the setting up, the exposition.

There – that feels better, doesn’t it?