Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Editing Your Script

Shonda Rhimes

Lesson time 19:02 min

You've written the first draft - now comes the task of editing your script. Shonda reveals her own editing process and provides tips on the best things to cut in a script.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Shonda's Editing Process • Reading Scripts Outloud • Feedback


I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to move forward until I'm happy with what I already have. So I'll spend a day writing-- say, I'll write 10 or 15 pages and then before I can move on the next morning, I have to make sure that the 15 pages I wrote is perfect for me. And then I move forward. Because I don't ever like to then finish a script and then have to go back. So to me I never even really think about it as editing or rewriting, but clearly it is. You just want those pages that you've done to be perfect. And then you can move forward, and those pages have to be perfect. And then you move forward, and those pages have to be perfect. So that when you get to fade out, you don't have to do anything else. To me, that's always the best feeling. And also because I'm a fast writer, it helps to continuously do that-- go back and hone, and make everything work because it keeps everything fresh in your head. And then you don't end up in some place where you wrote something really fast and by the time you go back, you've already lost the thing that you were doing. It's just helpful for me. When I'm going back and editing, before I can move forward, you want to make sure the scenes resonate. You want to make sure the dialogue is as original as you can possibly make it. I like to go through and hone. I don't like the characters to say too much. The overly verbose dialogue can really be a problem. And while my characters talk a lot, I try to go through and keep it spare for them, even the ones where they have huge monologues-- they're spare, huge monologues. You want to make sure that all of your scenes are set in the right place in terms of how you're describing them. I like to go through. And I like to remove the stage direction that I put in that suggests how the actor should act something, versus where they are in space and what's going on with them. I think you know when the pages that you're writing are right. When you get ready to go forward, there are no more unanswered questions or mistakes left behind. You're going forward and you're not thinking, well, this scene is not going to work. Or these beats aren't going to work. Or how can I tell this part of the story if we haven't discussed blank already. So in the pilot episode of Scandal, you couldn't possibly have gone to act two and had them start investigating if I didn't have Sully come in at the very end of act one. Or if we hadn't introduced Quinn the way we had, we would not have really been able to set up this idea that she was worshipful of Olivia Pope. You would have to come up with a way of really bringing Quinn in and really building up that scene. You want to make sure that the scenes you have really resonate, so that when you move forward they're all falling into place. [MUSIC PLAYING] There are two ways that I hear my scripts. One, when I'm writing a scri...

About the Instructor

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her screenwriting class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.

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Shonda Rhimes

In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.

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