When starting out did you ever have trouble finding motivation to keep working on rewrites? Doesn’t the same story lose its interest after about four drafts?
— Brannek Gaudet
Good guess. Four drafts is about the right number. The first draft is exciting, bewildering and fresh. For the second draft, you have all sorts of brilliant new ideas and suggestions to try out, so that keeps it interesting. The third draft is generally damage-control from the second draft, where many of those good ideas ended up not working. The fourth draft, well…
The fourth draft sucks. By this point, the intractable problems of your script are readily apparent, and you’re faced with either (a) writing around them, or (b) trying to tackle them head on. In my experience, while you should choose (b), you generally choose (a).
It all boils down to two related questions: What script did you sit down to write, and what script did you end up writing?
At this fourth draft stage, you have to really decide between Great in Theory and what Actually Works. If you approach it this way, you can sometimes gain fresh eyes on your script. Read it as if some other, lamer screenwriter wrote it. What would you do differently?
Then, do that.