Redrafting with Trello

A polished script, one step at a time.

I finished the second draft of my sitcom pilot! 🥳

I read through it yesterday, and although it’s my best attempt at a script yet, there’s still a fair bit of redrafting and polishing to do before it’s ready to send out to people.

In general, I’m not a big fan of rewriting the whole thing over and over again — I prefer to focus on little pieces and specific problems at a time.1 So borrowing another idea from software engineering, as I am prone to do, I’m going to try managing my next draft with a Trello board:

A Trello board for my third draft.

A Trello board for my third draft. 

If you’ve not used Trello before, it’s an app that lets you create ‘cards’ and sort them into columns. Typically, the cards are used to represent some work to be done, and the columns represent stages in a workflow. As you work on a card, you move it through the columns.

In this case, I’ve created a card for each scene in the script — such as “cold open” or “Karthik and Senthil arrive at the restaurant” — and I’ve added a column for all the things I’d like to check off for each one, using my sitcom progression framework as inspiration:

So basically: I pick up a scene (which I can do in any order), and as I’m redrafting it, I focus on the next column only. I keep going until all the cards are in the “done” column.

Six stages seems like a lot, but most scenes already have at least some of these qualities, which means they don’t need to go through the whole flow. On top of this, I’m hoping that by focusing on one scene and one problem at a time, I’ll be more efficient overall — and that by the end of the process, I’ll have a stronger script than if I just rewrote the whole thing from start to finish six times.

I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see! This is an idea I’ve wanted to try for a while, but I’ve never got far enough with a project – it only works if you’ve got a relatively stable draft – so I’m excited to try it out. And if you want to follow along, you can see the board here.

  1. I’d actually be interested to know if you’re like this too. A potential project on my to-do list is to develop screenwriting software that lets you focus on one scene at a time – without seeing the rest of the script – and then compile them all at the end. At the moment, I do this manually by creating separate versioned files for each act and then copying and pasting them together – which is very long.

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