The curse of the “rough cut”

Recently I’ve been somewhat involved with a few “problematic” projects where I think part of the problem lies in the idea that a “rough cut” or a “first assembly” is the best first step in the editorial process.

What?!?!?

That’s how things are done, always! Are you mad?!?!?

Ok, let me explain.

The problem is that “first decisions” tend to stick. Or, to put it another way: The DNA of that first rough cut will most likely be present in the final product. Rarely is the first rough cut completely thrown out after using it to assess the story and then start from absolute scratch, and even if it were, the impressions and feelings of the material that you get from watching that first assembly will inform your decisions down the road. A much more common scenario is that the rough cut is used as the starting point for an incremental process.

So – don’t be flip about putting together that first assembly. In many ways it’s more important than the final tweaks.

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