In Remembrance of Jimmy 

Writing a screenplay is like writing a novel.

It is commonly believed that the former takes much less time and the latter is much more a labor of love. That is incorrect.

My biggest challenge in screenwriting is economy. I am constantly reminded to simplify.



Currently, I am in the process of cutting a supporting character. (Let’s call him Jimmy.) Jimmy’s subplot is interesting and sometimes comical. His path weaves in and out of the other characters’ plots and culminates in an important event. He’s fun to write. However, I have too much going on.

I was afraid to cut Jimmy. Firstly because I had fallen in love with his role in the story. Secondly, I figured one of two things would happen, which is a risk:

1. All of the kinks in my screenplay would suddenly be removed and it would snap into one smooth, rad line of a story. (Score!)
2. The story would receive a dose of bland and I’d have loads of redrafting to do in order to compensate for the holes. (Suck!)

In reality, it has been a mixture of both. After much stubbornness, pacing and cringing, I began erasing Jimmy. This was the most problematic in the first act, where he serves as a mini-antagonist who prods the group of main characters to show their traits and relationships by reacting to his aggression. The trick was to remove Jimmy but keep the layers of these relationships in tact, especially in regards to the main character.

My solution was to reduce Jimmy from a supporting character to a nameless character (much like “cop” or “waitress”) who serves the same antagonistic purpose in only a few lines. Yes, he became more one-dimensional, (and I had to beware of cliché,) but I was then able to focus more on the main characters and their relationships.

Yeah, Jimmy had it coming.

Snip! Clip!
Oh, Jimmy… Die!
So sad to see you go.
Even though you were kind of a dick.
But you did manage to save one person’s life.
Which would be great if you hadn’t watched some other people die.
Well, at least you were really good at football.
And impersonating Darth Vader.

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