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Hallo, i am new here and i have read some of your Comments about treatments. Of course, there is no law about whether if you have to write a treatment before starting with the actual script or not. I have never written a screenplay before. I am just starting to get into it. I am an aspiring screenwriter. I have been working on a step outline for weeks. I would love to share with you two sources from my screenwriting teaching books that I consider to be very important from my point of few.
I read somewhere that some Treatments are over 20 pages long for feature films, I'm definitely writing the 6-page treatments.
In "STORY Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principle of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee (fourth edition, published by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers), it says here on p. 442 (German edition):
“Widespread distributed ten or twelve pages treatments in the present industry are no treatments but rough drawings … A 10 page drawing is not close enough material for a script….But a step outline that is being extended to a scope of 60 to 80 page treatment equals an increase of creative power .”(back-translated by myself)
The book "Teach yourself screenwriting" by Ray Frensham is citing the screenwriter Adrian Hodges, Tom And Viv, The Lost World, Lorna Doone under " The treatment" (p. 201):
“Treatments can be a poisoned chalice. They are enormously difficult to write, a nightmare, and they can only give you a sense of the movie. The problem is: you can’t write a script before you write a treatment”
Anyways if you write a treatment and add in dialogue and or partial scenes is that good or bad?
In "STORY. Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principle of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee (fourth edition, published by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers), it remarks on p. 447 (German edition):
“The wise author postpones writing the dialogs as far as possible because a premature writing of dialogs stifles creativity.” (back-translated by myself)
I have heard a lot of reports on TV, i. e. Making Of documentary, about screenwriters and personal statements from screenwriters themselves, who proudly states finishing their screenplay in just 3 or 6 month or even in just a few weeks. But I never ever get to hear from them about the preworks, treatments followed by time consuming step outlines that took them maybe one, two or more years to finish. Those kind of reports discourages new aspiring screenwriters and is non-factual. I was discouraged too, till I got to read the following books I would like to cite from.
Some literatures as already cited from above recommends to start with a step outline before starting with the actual treatment. The Book "Teach yourself screenwriting" by Ray Frensham says under the subject "The Step Outline" (p. 198 ):
"you will need a set of ... index cards. Each card represent one scene of your script".
The same recommendation is given by the book "STORY. Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principle of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee (fourth edition, published by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers), it says here on p. 442 (German edition):
"A successful author invests the first four month on putting notes on a set of index cards: Each stack of cards - three, four or more - represents one act. ... For months he focuses of just a few stacks of cards. ... To convert this step outline into a screenplay the author extends each scene of one or two lines to a detail by detail description." (back-translated by myself)
Yes of course, many authors skip that recommended pre-work and are still successful. The same source remarks:
There are authors “who skip the treatment-stadium but still produce good screenplays; But I am asking myself in this case, how much better they could have done if they had chosen the more tougher way” (p.448, back-translated by myself).
I for myself, especially as a beginner, consider the recommendations made in the above cited literature to be very reasonable. I'll take them to heart. They help me to avoid making mistakes at the very beginning and that saves a lot of time.
Thank you for being part of your community Mikel24fps
When I'm planning each episode for my website (An Alternative Angel), first I type up a 6-10 line summary of each episode for the season (22 episodes)...so all the key events in each episode that lead up to the season finale. Once I've done that, then I take each episode and type up a scene-by-scene summary with some key dialogue (which can be anything up to about 10 pages long). Once I'm happy with that, I type up the script, then do final editing. Each episode ends up being somewhere between 45-60 pages (depending on whether or not there are fight scenes, or lots of short sentence dialogue). I've not written a treatment before but for me, the scene-by-scene summary that I mentioned is about the closest thing to one.
Everyone has their own style of writing and everyone prepares to write in a different way. You've just got to do what you feel comfortable with.
This is similar to the way I work. I Write out each scene and everything that will happen and in quite some detail to be honest. Since this is merely a break down, scene for scene and will not been read by anyone but me, I let myself go wild with detail - and plot, most of the story pages I write can end up around 30 pages, often exceeding that.
The usual dichotomy about "Quality versus quantity" here. . .
Treatments don't necessarily get us past the wall. Usually, the man or woman on the other side of the wall has done this many more times compared to your first attempt to breach through that wall. So, it is up to them for the first few meetings about your proposed feature film or TV series pilot that you have in hand.
My two cents would be:
A) Write the story, let it take whatever number of pages it takes, complete the story, do not be episodic.
B) Be watchful of your own body language when at meetings with a studio big wig or even with an agent with the nit-grit to place your story into the right hands. Avoid laughing out loud in meetings, keep a check on your own adrenalin flow. Never show any desperation in your presentation.
C) Try never to push the envelope at them, they are folks who have made a reputation, a name and a lot of money -- doing what they do best.
D) Avoid lengthy versions in the first few meetings for sure.
E) Make a hard hitting log line and quarter page to a half a page synopsis, see if it matches with the script as it flows, it need not be in the same "Scene by scene" format, think a "Trailer" here, make it hard hitting with at least the seven major plot points involving your protagonist and the antagonist, and the goal they must accomplish at all costs. Using the keywords such as "Compelling" in your verbal, as opposed to written form of storytelling / treatment or synopsis, is always advantageous. Avoid flowery language in the written format, but do not flinch from using them in the verbal pitch with a studio exec or a financier.
F) Never tell them that you have "Mapped out the perfect location, budget and the perfect Cast, crew for this project". That's definitely a SUICIDE MISSION.
G) Check for all typos, spelling mistakes and syntax errors before you send to anyone.
H) try "Reading out your story aloud when you are driving a car, imagining you have a co-passenger and narrating your story to him / her in a quick fire 25 seconds or 35 maximum, see if your storytelling is clear or not?
I) Oh, and -- "Avoid Chat lingo in all of your business communication, that is, words such as 'Hey', 'Howdy', 'Wassup?', 'Lol', 'LMAO', ROFLMAO etc. These should never occur in any typed communication with any industry pro, however close you might be with him or her.
J) FINALLY, use only ONE character name or none at all in the pitch synopsis and treatment. The more names you introduce, the more convoluted the listener would 'receive' it as.
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After reading all posts here about the script treatment, my POV is that the script treatment is the combination of the whole idea of each scene in the full lenght script, is it?
Some say, you can write the treatment before you start writting the script. Wow... that just hits me good because I have about 10 stories in my head that I can deliver 1 in every month or so by sitting in front computer a few hours/day.
Ever since I wrote the Visit and started to write its full version, the CONNECTION, until now I finished, it took me about 1 whole month to did so. And I spent about 4hrs or less to write everyday.