Any writer will tell you that one of the major signs that you’re maturing as a writer is the ability to stand back, examine your work, and make the appropriate changes to advance the story. And part of that is the infamous ‘kill your darling’ admonition (attributed to any number of authors), where you say goodbye to your favorite gems, many of whom have been with you since Draft 1.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’m writing the script and the novel simultaneously, which is an interesting exercise in itself. But yesterday, as I met with a producer who is interested in the script, I realized that I had to treat each of those very differently. Sure, they were still about the same thing and would end the same way, but that’s where the similarities end.

The primary rule in scriptwriting is to examine each scene and ask the simple question:  does it advance your narrative? Anything that doesn’t get a strong ‘yes’ needs to be looked at closely and will most. So after the meeting with the producer I took a hatchet to the script that I’d so proudly presented to her a few weeks previously.

In a hacking mood, I revisited the novel, wondering which scenes and characters would survive. Surprisingly, most of them, with one exception, made the cut. Why? Because novels and scripts have their own pace and schedule. Part of the reason why I’m writing The Forever Game is that people have been bugging me for years to write an insider account of life at a startup (I’ve been in a few as an employee and have helped launch over 50) and Silicon Valley overall (living there for 30 years). Those kinds of lessons can best be imparted in a novel—as long as they’re interesting and not in the form of a lecture—but will slow down the script.

On the flip side, a device for the script that doesn’t translate to a novel is the montage. As I was talking to the producer, we were addressing how to keep suspense going in a process that can take years to develop (the discovery, testing and production of a groundbreaking drug). She said that I could start with a presentation to the Board but then, as we keep the presentation as a voice-over, we can show scenes in the lab—the gorgeous computer screens of DNA, scientists looking through microscopes, testing on flatworms, etc.

I’m going to have to wait until both the novel and script are finished before determining whether I’d ever do them simultaneously again. If I don’t, though, I will start with the script, because it’s a helluva lot easier to expand a script into a novel than the other way around.