Notes from a Screenreader: Hoarder Edition

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

A first draft is a hoarder house. It is piled full of things of great value to the writer, things that feel necessary and beautiful and valuable, or at least are too nice to throw away.

The experience of the reader to the hoarder draft is, “Why are you keeping all of this stuff?”

  • The Trash Pile. Everything that once might have been important but now only endangers the readability of your script. Exposition and backstory that aren’t necessary, odds and ends of plot possibilities that dead-ended, overdevelopment of subplots and minor characters, scenes in which nothing new happens, scenes that report what’s about to happen or just happened—all junk to readers.
  • The Sell Pile. Ideas and characters and pieces of dialogue you can turn a profit with in a different story.
  • The Keep Pile. The smallest pile, the final draft, the nice furniture, the statement piece of art, the piano, the good china. A place for everything and everything in its place to create a living space for your story that is devoid of clutter and ready for guests.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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