Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Oopsy...in my excitement of the Andrew Stanton presentation I realized that my next post was supposed to be about putting all of this together into an outline. My bad.

As you can see to the right I have completed the outline. It came out to around twelve pages. Not bad. It's a quick read with enough information to get across story, plot, character etc. I have read a bunch of outlines and for the most part they can be boring. Lots of information. I try to make mine a fun read. Give a sense of the tone of the movie but not so much detail and frills that it takes away from the purpose of the outline: Executive Approval.

After I was satisfied with where the cards were on the big board I sat down in front of it with my laptop and started to write. I don't want to say transcribe, because that would mean that everything on the board was perfect. Far from it. While I write I try not to look at the board. Instead, I just write from memory. This serves me two purposes. One, it allows me to write in a more story telling fashion and not so "card to card" feeling. And two, if I am writing and forget a card but the story still works it tells me that maybe that story point or idea wasn't necessary to the movie. So out it goes. Kind of a natural editing process. Granted, it could be my terrible memory and I forgot to write an important plot point or character arc, in which case, I review all the cards once I am done and double check cards against outline.

The outline, like a script, will go through many rewrites. My first pass is just to get all of the information out. Then, I can go back through paragraph by paragraph and line by line. I might look at a paragraph and see if there is a more entertaining way to get the point across or perhaps tell the same information in less words.

I like to give my outline act breaks as well as a mid-point header and also number each scene or sequence. I also try to break up paragraphs into short chunks so there is more white space on the page much like one might only have two or three lines of description in a screenplay. Makes it open and airy and less daunting and less dense of a read.

The screenwriting team of TERRY ROSSIO and TED ELLIOT have a great website called WORDPLAY. It has a bunch of great columns on screenwriting and also one on WRITING TREATMENTS AND OUTLINES. I recommend checking it out and maybe even printing out the columns and including them in your arsenal of "how-to" material.

Until next time,


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