If You Think Your First Draft is Amazing…You’re Probably Wearing Script Goggles

Are you wearing script goggles? Excited dog in goggles.
Photo by @danny_lincoln on Unsplash. Edited on Venngage.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the term beer goggles before, but if not let’s go to Urban Dictionary as a legit source, because why not?

It defines beer goggles as:

A phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons to appear beautiful: summed up perfectly by the phrase, “there are no ugly women at closing time”.

Well my screenwriting friends, we writers suffer from a similar affliction I am affectionately calling Script Goggles (trademark pending). I speak from personal experience, and by reading this article, I think you’ll see similar moments in your own life and will be able to avoid the uncomfortable, awkward moments of realization when those googles have been removed.

What then are script goggles?

Script goggles are a phenomenon in which a writer has a feeling of being high or drunk off of finishing a script and believes their script is one of the following descriptions: amazing, hilarious, incredible, like nothing we’ve seen before, and/or the greatest script ever! Realistically, you may have never thought that highly of your script, but you’ve probably at least fallen into the trap of believing that your script is better than it really is.

When are writers most likely wearing script goggles?

The answer is after your first draft, especially of your first script. There are many…several…no let’s just say an insane number of writers that I have met that have only written one script. It’s always the same story too. They think they have the most original idea ever; they think their script is amazing, and it’s ready to be sold. Well, I’ve read those scripts. Their idea has been done before, their script is terrible, and no one would ever buy it in the state that it’s in.

Now if you’re a writer with only one script, you might think that I’m being cruel. But let me remind you, I’ve been you. I didn’t say completely original or greatest script ever, but I did greatly defend my first script. Where is that script now? In a drawer, refusing to step into the light for fear of someone seeing its numerous and egregious flaws. Honestly, it’s where it should be. I would say its rightful home is the trash, but truthfully as screenwriters we need to be okay with learning from our mistakes and flaws.

After re-reading your first draft. Girl with goggles off in shock.
Photo by @jdcea1101 on Unsplash. Edited on Venngage.

If you’re worried now about your script, there’s a simple solution.

Write your next script. How did I ever remove those goggles on that first script? I wrote my second script. After writing another script, I naturally began to see the flaws in the first one. I began to learn the craft of screenwriting. There are many aspects of screenwriting that you can be taught, but some aspects you have to learn through trial and error. If I had continued to only rewrite the same script, those goggles would have stayed on, but every time I write a new script, I see the mistakes I’ve made and the ways I’m becoming a better writer.

I do think we still suffer from this every time we write a new script; we first think it’s amazing, only to realize later, it needs a LOT of work. But that’s okay. You are feeling great about the work you’ve accomplished, and you should. You’ve written a script! That’s not an easy task and it is one that other people have given up on because it’s too hard. So, celebrate! Enjoy the high while it lasts, but just know at some point you have to get sober.

So how do you get sober?

I would simply encourage you to do three things.

  1. Put that script away for a couple weeks before you rewrite it.
  2. Start writing a new script. Whether it’s beginning to develop a new idea or actually putting fingers to keys and typing a new one out. Spend some time in a new world, with a new story, and new characters. That way when you go back to that original script, you will be able to look at it with sober eyes.
  3. When you have rewritten it to the point where you think it is great, ask another writer whose opinion you trust to read it. Let them be honest with you about it and ask them how they would improve your story.

There have been many times that I’ve had to look at my script with a “hangover” and face that moment of regret. There are often questions of “what was I thinking?”, “that doesn’t make any sense”, and “who’s that character?!” But after I’ve dealt with the common consequences of a first draft, I get better. It’s a script I’m now proud of after I’ve taken the script goggles off. I’m proud of it because after seeing its flaws, I was able to give it the makeover it so desperately needed and rewrite it into a better script.

Find fellow writers to help you get sober with the Writers Spotlight Writing Community.

About the Author

Observer of foolish and naive screenwriters

The Colorful Commentator is a screenwriter who enjoys playful mockery while offering advice from personal experience. Their self-deprecating blog posts come from a place of candid humor and a genuine desire to help screenwriters learn to laugh at their mistakes.