Family - A Seattle Advertising Agency

How I Wrote a Screenplay in 30 Days: Part 9


The Originality Pass

Download a copy of the screenplay, A Girl Named Trouble.

I’m 20 days into writing the screenplay “A Girl Named Trouble.” I have a first draft. Now comes the hard part: rewriting.

My process for rewriting is to do individual passes, meaning I’ll start on page 1 and go through the entire screenplay, focused on fixing one aspect. Some passes go fast, and others will stop you dead in your tracks. The first pass I made on this screenplay was for originality.

So if I recognized anything in the screenplay that I had seen somewhere else before, I had to rewrite it.

Been There, Done That

This led me to rewrite the chase scene on the freeway. We’ve all seen freeway chase scenes. And we’ve seen cars driving away in reverse. But I can’t identify a scene where both the driver and the passenger are driving the car at the same time in reverse on the freeway.

Likewise, I’ve seen a lot of fights on train cars. But I’ve never seen a villain dropping people in a crowd to get a clear shot at the protagonist. These are just a couple twists I put on scenes to make them original.

Interesting Prostitutes, Not Distracting Ones

Absolutely everything needs a fresh take. I often needed to try on a few different ideas before arriving at the final solution. At one point the prostitutes were women, and played a bigger part in the story. I settled on male prostitutes because they’re less common in movies and more offensive to Bernie’s uncle. For one draft, I considered underage male prostitutes, but the whole thing became too dark and distracting from the main storyline.

This is how I spent the last week of the 30 days, reconsidering my choices. Next week we’ll examine other passes I made to the script.


Start the series from the beginning.

Mike Johnston is a production executive and advertising creative in Seattle. He is available for consulting, writing and directing. Contact Mike.