So you’ve finished your first draft. You probably started with an outline, but found that your characters took you to new places and new discoveries. How can you tell if it all fits together coherently?
Try writing a trailer for your script.
I adore movie trailers. I probably watch at least one a day. Either new movies coming out, or revisiting old ones. The great thing about trailers is they get to the heart of the film. From a good trailer you get an idea of tone, theme, characters, and story.
And while it might be hard to pick these things up from a 120 page screenplay, where the scale makes it all a little fuzzy, a trailer helps you focus in on those important moments.
So figure out those character introductions, those key scenes of dialogue, those big set pieces. Put on your editors cap. Figure out what beats are most important. And write it all down in a three or four page document. Pick out a few songs to set the tone. Play it over in your head.
It’s a great way to figure out what beats you’re missing and/or what scenes need more clarity. And if you can’t find those scenes or bits of dialogue that sum up your character journeys and themes, maybe that’s a good place to start on your rewrite.
Here’s a few of my favorite trailers to inspire you: