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  • Treatments

    Hey all - just a couple of thoughts on treatments. How do you guys feel about writing them?

    My experience is that sometimes I think they are a nuisance. Instead I just pull out a word document, fill it with bullet points of the beats in the story, and then jump into the screenplay since it's "the fun part-.

    Well... I am starting to realize that the best writing I do is when I take serious time out to produce a totally readable, vivid synopsis/treatment of the story. My last one was 20 pages. Maybe it's more like a "scriptment-.

    I find that the canvas of a treatment gives me room to start imagining characters, visuals, locations, set ups and payoffs, ideas for scenes. When I limit myself to sparse beat sheets I feel completely entrapped by the lifelessness of the document. It does very little for me.

    Another thing I noticed is that a well written treatment is a valid thing to show people in the development process of a project. Of course there are things that don't come through in a treatment - tone, dialogue, pacing. But it is a much clearer picture of the writer's plan than an outline or a beat sheet is. And getting feedback on that treatment seems like a great way of knowing if the screenplay itself is worth pursuing.

    I'm team treatment. All the way. That's all


  • #2
    Re: Treatments

    My writing partner and I start with a logline, then a beat sheet, but we do the beat sheet in a Word doc and keep adding ideas as they come to us. Eventually the beat sheet may become as long as a treatment. It's a messy document, though, with ideas added in various places that may be moved around, for our eyes only. It does give us the advantages you mention such as adding distinct personalities to characters, finding places for twists, set-ups and pay-offs etc. The only time we write a treatment that is written well enough to be a good read is if it is a treatment that someone in the industry wants us to write. That is a whole other level of work, but we do it when we have to.


    • #3
      Re: Treatments

      Interesting !

      I definitely keep changing things around as I am writing and I have a document to keep track of all the ideas as they come to me.

      I guess the little epiphany I am having is that when I am writing a treatment I feel like I'm writing - I can get lost in a rhythm and start imaging it much more precisely as a movie rather than listing a series of incidents which may or may not even connect with each other.


      • #4
        Re: Treatments

        I know what you mean about feeling like you are writing. My thoughts come to me best through getting lost in writing. But my writing partner spends more time in his head, thinking through plot twists, reveals, etc and then just jotting them down. By the time we are done with our notes to ourselves, we know the characters and the story. We just have to make it entertaining. So, this is the process that is our compromise. Everyone else's mileage may vary.


        • #5
          Re: Treatments

          Since we are slightly off the topic of treatments and more into the process of writing beats, development of story, etc., I will make a brief recommendation of some free software (Windows, Linux).

          Maybe a year ago I helped someone (whom I knew only online) to rewrite some interesting but ragged material in his screenplay.

          I discovered a neat way to organize beats, scenes, and even sequences within a scene.

          There is a free mindmapping program called FreeMind, which is available here. One of the versions has Java embedded in it, and I recommend that version. You can get a version without Java, for use if you have at least Java 1.6 on your computer, but one time I had a hassle getting Java to work with the program. It is better just to use the Java-embedded version.

          With FreeMind you build everything visually on tree nodes (which can have subnodes). A node can be a scene or a beat. You can use nodes and subnodes for action and dialogue. In a scene where I revised things a lot for my online acquaintance, I broke down the action and speeches into units and moved them around very easily.

          You can put text into Fountain format, export the text, and then import it as Fountain into Fade In.

          It is worth checking out. Be sure to get version 1.0.1, which is the stable version. There is a later beta version, but I had trouble with it when I tried to use it.

          "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.