Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Man with a Plan

Well I've just got some notes back so I have to do some honest work. ........Tomorrow maybe....I am the master procrastinator after all.

I've seen a few arguments/discussions lately on message boards about pre-planning prior to writing your script. The opinions range from plan nothing, just write - to have a thirty page treatment by your side.

Personally I think it's whatever works for you. That might be trial and error.

TV though is a whole 'nuther ball game when it comes to planning. You've pretty much got to do it because of the tight time constraints both in deadlines and length wise to fit the exact time slots. Especially so for the commercial channels when you have to factor in ad breaks and have hooks in place.


For movies here's what I do. After I have an idea that has a beginning middle and end I'll get that down on a couple of sheets of paper. Two single spaced sheets pretty much tells me it has legs enough. That also gives me my act breaks, basic structure and the narrative drive.

Then I'll do a beat sheet being more specific about character actions, set pieces etc, but each beat being no more than a sentence, maybe two.

I'll mull that over for a day or two. Maybe jotting down lines of dialogue that come to mind and looking to see if there is a better way of getting from beat 13 to beat 17 or whatever. But more importantly making sure my characters would do and say those things and there is a logical reason for them.

Then I'm ready to go. I'm not a slave to the beat sheet though. Sometimes ideas hit you as you write.

As far as individual scenes go I'm pretty free to write whatever I like. My beat sheet has only the barest outline of the intention. So although I know exactly where I'm going, I can travel by whatever means necessary. That's what I enjoy.


It seems to work for me but working practices are highly personal. Whatever gets you to 'Fade Out'

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Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

I constantly seem to have ideas for feature length screenplays and I pretty much use the same gauge as you.

I sit there with pen and paper, introduce the characters and write out the beats. Bob does this, something happens etc, etc, etc. Here and there I'll drop in notes about motivation, why situations arise, and extra plot threads that may come into my head.

It's usually quite easy to see when I have something that will translate into 110 pages or so when I fill up a few sides (or more) in no time at all.

I'm not sure if this is what you call an outline, but it's the label I give to the result.

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English Dave said...

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Or I might not.

Chris, yeah that's what I call my outline.
Another thing I do, and forgot to mention is plan out roughly how many pages I'll need to hit the act breaks when I want. I can pretty much tell the page count of each scene from the beat sheet.

Helps me focus on not write reams of unnecessary stuff which then has to be cut anyway.

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