Question for people who don't outline

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  • Question for people who don't outline

    What kind pre-work, if any, do you do? Do you know the characters who are going to be in your story? Any plot points? What?
    what the head makes cloudy the heart makes very clear

  • #2
    Re: Question for people who don't outline

    this is a great question and i ask myself this everyday, i just start writing. even to this day i just start writing. in the old days i never outlined, now at least, i write in a malgamation of a beat sheet and script format, combining them so i don't stall and it helps pounding it out.

    to outline scares me, it literally scares me. all those numbes and letters and rigidness of it. but for anyone who doesn't outline i strongly suggest at least meet in the middle. it helps, it really expedites the actual time it takes in finding the 'point' of the scenes so all the dialogue and action can start serving its purpose.
    Last edited by THEUGLYDUCKLING; 03-16-2010, 10:59 AM.
    You only get one chance to rewrite it 100 times.

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    • #3
      Re: Question for people who don't outline

      Creating a treatment and developing a story is MUCH harder than writing a script.

      I can't imagine why a writer would "just start writing" if (s)he expects to ever make a sale. That's basically a waste of time.

      The research and deliberation that goes into crafting a story for the marketplace is the real work.

      Writing the script itself is the reward.

      @Kwinkky: Check out the MR. AND MRS. SMITH film treatment for an example of how to craft a compelling outline. This treatment sold the picture. Not a great film, but an excellent piece of writing.

      http://www.creativescreenwriting.com...Treatment.html

      SMASH TO:

      BLACK

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      • #4
        Re: Question for people who don't outline

        I let it perculate while I'm doing mudane things, exercise, cooking, work (sometimes) driving (YOIKS!) that sort of thing. Generally after having the idea I'll jot something down, mostly in the form of a scene of 2-3 pages. Often this won't be the pivotal scene but it'll be enough to generate more ideas from and more importantly something to come to grips with my lead character.

        Then I start writing...
        ________
        INFANT WELLBUTRIN
        Last edited by Southern_land; 05-13-2011, 07:45 AM.
        I heard the starting gun


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        • #5
          Re: Question for people who don't outline

          people have different sense for story, than others, and that unfolds differently within their process.

          and that was a great article about ms. and mr smith. but for me, the first two sentences sold it, ellipses and all. . . everything else was just after thought. except for the guy who is writing it. love the ''we see': followed by a colon:
          Last edited by THEUGLYDUCKLING; 03-16-2010, 11:14 AM.
          You only get one chance to rewrite it 100 times.

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          • #6
            Re: Question for people who don't outline

            @UGLYD: You're totally right. Didn't mean to get on my high horse there! What do you got against Kinberg?

            @OP: I've got a notepad filled with one-line ideas that come to me as I'm driving or skiing or whatever. I pitch these ideas to friends/chairlift riders/writers to see if any of them have traction. I've thrown out dozens of ideas after realizing they are futile to pitch. From there, I build off the logline to write a 1-page synopsis laying out the bones of 3-Act story. This I'll sit on for a while. I've got about ten of these 1-pagers. Sometimes I'll find a collaborator out of my writer friends to work with me on a treatment. From there I send the 6-15 page treatment to EvilRbt for anaylsis anad review. He'll tell you if you have a story and where it can be strengthened. Then I start writing action and descriptions in MS Word. No dialogue. McKee is right when he says "don't write any dialogue in a first draft." It'll all get changed with the development of the story. Once the first act is blocked out in prose I'll drop that into Movie Magic and start writing in that program. Basically, I never look at a completely blank screen, except when I have to write the logline. Hope that helps.

            SMASH TO:

            BLACK

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            • #7
              Re: Question for people who don't outline

              i have nothing against ginsberg, i was merely pointing out that he used whatever he thought would work, from a colon'd we see to a very turse, simplisitic narrative to elipses.
              You only get one chance to rewrite it 100 times.

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              • #8
                Re: Question for people who don't outline

                Originally posted by Kwinnky View Post
                What kind pre-work, if any, do you do? Do you know the characters who are going to be in your story? Any plot points? What?
                Depends.

                The first script I ever wrote I just sat down and wrote it.

                Having said that, the idea had been floating around for quite a while and I had the entire film pictured in my head scene for scene, shot for shot.

                I like writing that way. I like to 'see' the movie and then just 'transcribe' everything I'm seeing onto paper (or Final Draft, rather). And it didn't seem to do me any harm - that first script got some good attention from the studios (but not quite good enough )

                When I've finished my current spec, I'm going to go back to it and give it a good overhaul - maybe even do some planning this time around

                But one script I worte was a Sci-Fi action horror and that needed some really serious plotting - so that one got the 5* luxury treatment.

                Same with the horror assignment I picked up, but that was purely so that the director and I could use the paperwork to agree the outline before I started rewriting his script.

                The trouble with me is that by nature I'm an opportunist, not a planner. I like to see where a story takes me - I think that's why I like to picture all of it in my head beforehand.

                Although outlines work (and there's no doubt that they do), I find I tend to use them as a jumping off point, i.e. "if that works, what else can we do?" And "now that we've established that, let's see where this will take us?"

                I know they're not meant to be totally rigid, but I do treat them as rather more springy than they're supposed to be ...

                ... unless someone is paying me to write, of course!

                Do you know the characters who are going to be in your story?
                Yes. Always. The central characters, anyway.

                One thing I will say though, is know HOW MANY central characters you're going to have. Too many characters = not enough screen time for your protagonist.

                What kind pre-work, if any, do you do?
                Tons, if I'm on contract or only have a minimal amount of time in which to complete the script. Outlines, treatments, charcter bios, the lot.

                If it's one of my own specs and time is on my side, I don't do any paperwork - I like to savour the elements, run multiple scenarios of each scene and then let them 'infuse'. Sounds ponsy, but that's just the way it is.

                By the way, I'm not advising anyone follow my work style, just saying that's how I do it - nothing more.

                Cheers,

                Mat.
                I'm a product of everything I've ever experienced ... I need to get out more!

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                • #9
                  Re: Question for people who don't outline

                  Once I know my basic story and have a succint logline written out, I jot down plot points and scene ideas on a yellow legal pad until I have several pages worth.

                  Then, I plot it out everything from those pages on a beat sheet.
                  Last edited by Optimus; 03-16-2010, 04:14 PM.
                  "Tact's just 'not saying true stuff.' " - Cordelia Chase

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                  • #10
                    Re: Question for people who don't outline

                    I used to say I don't outline, but that's not true. I do it all in my head and run the film in my mind as I build the structure. I sit down to write when I have the characters and major set-pieces down pat.

                    I don't start unless I have a clear image of the movie, although I don't always have an ending in mind. I am always confident, however, that a good ending will dictate itself along the way.

                    On the one occasion I did write a detailed outline, I found it very difficult mentally to deviate from the outline, even when it clearly wasn't working.
                    TimeStorm & Blurred Vision Book info & blog: https://stormingtime.com//

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                    • #11
                      Re: Question for people who don't outline

                      your question alone makes me think you're fishing for shortcuts. but the truth is... most shortcuts lead to extra rewrites and heavy duty rewrites at that.

                      but the word "outline" is too specific b/c some people take it as a formula that must be followed. to outline scares me, it literally scares me. all those numbes and letters and rigidness of it. in truth the screenwriting outline is a detailed treatment. if that's too much for you then at least start out with a 3 act structure to work from. you absolutely must know your beginning and ending (1st and 3rd acts) before you even have a story.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Question for people who don't outline

                        For comedies and rom-coms I wrote very loose outlines/beat sheets (no numbers of letters). They're very unique to me and I doubt anyone else could make sense of them -- sometimes I noted things like a memory tag because the scene details were in my head. Although they probably should have gone in, in some form.

                        I also note lines of dialogue that may come to me on this mess I call an outline. And sometimes I type notes to self in parens in the middle of a sentence.

                        If any industry person ever asked for an outline I have no idea what the hell I would do.

                        I do tend to do a bio of each main character. And for some characters based on people I know, including their personal back stories, I'll just type in their real name next to the characters name and a few odd cryptic notes to jog my memory.

                        However, with this monster I'm working on now, I am for the first time writing a detailed treatment and intent to break this down into a more proper outline. The scope of this story is wider, there's no way I can slide by on this one. I just doubled back and wrote nearly two pages for the backstory alone, just to help me keep ot straight in my mind.

                        I'd say this groundwork definitely helps and it's worth developing the habit of doing it
                        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                        • #13
                          Re: Question for people who don't outline

                          Originally posted by NikeeGoddess View Post
                          your question alone makes me think you're fishing for shortcuts. but the truth is... most shortcuts lead to extra rewrites and heavy duty rewrites at that.

                          but the word "outline" is too specific b/c some people take it as a formula that must be followed. to outline scares me, it literally scares me. all those numbes and letters and rigidness of it. in truth the screenwriting outline is a detailed treatment. if that's too much for you then at least start out with a 3 act structure to work from. you absolutely must know your beginning and ending (1st and 3rd acts) before you even have a story.
                          So true and so many don't do it..

                          I know every part of my script before I start writing it.. I know my beginning, my middle and I know my ending..

                          I know every beat and write to it..

                          That way I end up with a good first draft which only requires a series of polishes for each element, action, dialogue, sluglines, page length, names, character descriptions, and anything else I can improve in with each draft..

                          Writing off the top of my head would result in me having to break it all down to see if it works and if it doesn't I'd have to perform a major page one rewrite..

                          I've done a major page one rewrite when collaborating with another writer but never my own scripts..

                          I plan a structure with a beat sheet and outline then write the script from those..

                          If I use something like Blake Snyder's STC method then I have the software which I can fill in the beats and index cards on a board and export the text and use that as a rough first draft containing 40 master scenes and I expand it from that..

                          You can only appreciate the benefit if you've tried working like this.. if you've never written a beat sheet or outline you'd not appreciate the benefit of it..

                          A treatment is more in depth, can be more lengthy with more information to include all the scenes described in longhand - even prose and mentioning characters and even dialogue if needs be..

                          You have to be discilined..

                          NikkeGoddess is right.. Bang on the money...

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                          • #14
                            Re: Question for people who don't outline

                            Originally posted by Kevan View Post

                            NikkeGoddess is right.. Bang on the money...
                            This thread is about to get interesting...
                            TimeStorm & Blurred Vision Book info & blog: https://stormingtime.com//

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                            • #15
                              Re: Question for people who don't outline

                              You need to figure out what works for you. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks or what anybody else does. There are as many ways to outline as there are writers. And for every writer who labors over detailed outlines, there's another who starts with a 3-paragraph summary.

                              There's just no single right answer to this question -- except whatever helps you get to "The End".

                              Know your story. Know your characters (all of them). How you get there is up to you and in the end, if you get there nobody's going to care how you did it.

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