A line-by-line edit of the first 160 words of the script.

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Screenshot, Columbia Pictures

The Social Network tells the true(-ish) story of computer programmer and social-media mogul Mark Zuckerberg as he navigates the situations, relationships, and lawsuits that were the founding of Facebook. The script was written by Aaron Sorkin, based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.

💬 Original lines appear as code blocks, edited lines appear as quote blocks, and commentary appears as regular text. Original lines that do not require editing are run into the same code blocks as original lines that proceed them and do.

Original Text

FROM THE BLACK WE HEAR--MARK (V.O.)
Did you know there are more people with genius IQ’s living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States? …

A line-by-line edit of an excerpt from the script.

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Screenshot, StudioCanal UK

The Imitation Game tells the true story of mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing as he leads a group of cryptanalysts in deciphering Nazi communication codes during WWII. The script was written by Graham Moore, based on Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

💬 Original lines appear as code blocks, edited lines appear as quote blocks, and commentary appears as regular text. Original lines that do not require editing are run into the same code blocks as original lines that proceed them and do.

Original Text

INT. BLETCHLEY PARK - DAY - LATERANGLE ON: A machine. It looks like a typewriter that got left on the set of Blade Runner. Wires running all over it. Extra gears sticking out of the sides. Blinking lights that reveal German characters. …


A line-by-line edit of the first 272 words of the script.

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Credit: DreamWorks Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox

Lincoln tells the true story of Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to procure support for and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which amendment abolished slavery and effectively ended the American Civil War. The script was written by Tony Kushner, based in part on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

💬 Original lines appear as code blocks, edited lines appear as quote blocks, and commentary appears as regular text. Original lines that do not require editing are run into the same code blocks as original lines that proceed them and do.

Original Text

EXT. …


A line-by-line edit of the first 167 words of the script.

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Screenshot, Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place tells the story of a family, who, in a post-apocalyptic world terrorized by monsters with hypersensitive hearing, attempt to survive — and thrive — in silence. The script was written by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski, from a story by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck.

💬 Original lines appear as code blocks, edited lines appear as quote blocks, and commentary appears as regular text.

Original Text

BLACKWe hear, very clearly, the sound of light wind.EXT. TOWN — MAIN ST. — LATE AFTERNOONWe come up on... a streetlight. There is no illumination... and no movement. We hold on it for a long moment when suddenly... The streetlight bobs... and then begins to sway. We slowly begin to rise up on the streetlight to reveal... a small bird has landed on it. …


Late-night, unfiltered thoughts about the state of things.

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Photo by Liam Edwards on Unsplash

You know what frustrates me most about all of this? I can’t stop it. If this were a room full of twelve people, I could do something about it. I could reason with everyone individually, and we could all come to an agreement. But this isn’t a room full of twelve people; this is Whac-A-Mole with a billion moles, and every mole is operating in different time zones, and it’s just impossible to keep up.

If I could say anything to the world and have it listen, I would say “Stop.” I would tell everyone to stop moving and be quiet for a few seconds, take a few deep breaths, and just relax. I would have everyone look at everyone else in the face and just think about what they see, instead of hiding behind the noise of their speech. …


A comprehensive guide to natural-light selfie photography.

As a (strange but explicable) hobby, I’ve been taking selfies over the past few weeks. This hobby began in September, when I encountered a spot of interesting lighting in the hallway bathroom at my parents’ house. It was late afternoon, and the sun was shining through a small window and bouncing off the bathroom door, illuminating the bathroom with both direct and diffused lighting. I was at the sink, washing my hands, when I leaned forward and noticed in the mirror the direct sunlight acting as a spotlight on the left side of my face, and the reflection of the sunlight off the door acting as a bounce light on the right side of my face. …


Five brief meditations on modern validation, from the perspective of evolutionary psychology.

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Self-portrait.

A year ago, I took an evolutionary psychology course at Arizona State University — in part because I was interested in the topic and in part because it seemed like a course that would be scientific enough not be corrupted by political ideology. As it turned out, however, political ideology was (is) capable of corrupting any course, topic, or domain, so my efforts at avoiding it were futile.

My professor was a subscriber to and proponent of left-wing identity politics, a fact that I learned immediately simply by listening to her speak. She used words and phrases such as “gender identity” and “lived experience” — telltale signs of ideological possession, especially given their irrelevance in the context of an evolutionary psychology course. For example, on the first day of the course, we students were each given a three-by-five notecard and asked to write on it our name and a question. Our name, however, was not to be our given name (per se) rather that which we “preferred to be called,” and the question was to be that which we sought to answer by taking the course. I found the language of the first part to be, in my case, fitting for the second, as the question I decided then that I would seek to answer was, “Why do humans insist on being validated?” …


From a reader who is also a writer and editor.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

As writers, our goal is to communicate. As readers, our goal (and expectation) is to benefit from the communication of writers. Thus, the exchange between writers and readers is fundamentally one of value: in exchange for time, energy, and attention, readers receive information, knowledge, wisdom, and ideas (or entertainment), the application of which should solve for them some problem, improve some circumstance, or otherwise enrich their lives. So how can we as writers improve the quality and utility of our writing, thus increasing the value of our stories for our readers?

First, be courteous. Be mindful of the potential personal and professional responsibilities of your readers, as well as the potential demands placed on them and their resources, and get to the point of your stories as quickly as possible. This does not (necessarily) mean that you must get to the point immediately, but that you must get to the point as quickly as possible. Tell your readers what they’re in for so that they can determine if your story is worth the exchange of their resources. Usually, the best way to do this is with an introductory paragraph that states the purpose of the story and establishes appropriate expectations for reading it. …


An informal meditation on the state of racial affairs at ASU.

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Credit: Arizona State University

A few months ago, days after the death of George Floyd, Arizona State University (ASU) president Michael Crow sent an official email message to all ASU students, faculty, and staff. I’m a student at ASU, so I received this message, titled, simply, “A Message from ASU President Michael Crow”. In the message, President Crow lamented the death of George Floyd, affirmed his and the university’s support of American constitutional principles and values, and called upon everyone who read the message to send him suggestions and ideas about how the university could “do more” to, essentially, solve the problem of racism in the United States. …


A lack of precedent and policy has enabled institutions of higher education to infringe on the privacy of students.

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

For the past three months (since May 19, 2020), I have been communicating with various representatives of my university, Arizona State University, to resolve an issue regarding widespread infringement of student privacy. However, every person with whom I have spoken (seven in total, including the president of the university himself) has either ignored my claims, dismissed my claims, or passed me to someone else. …

About

Mitchell Ferrin

Editor, Designer | mitchellferrin.com

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