Do you find it difficult to structure a treatment so that it grips the reader as strongly as the full script? Join the club.
I don’t think any writer enjoys distilling their exquisitely crafted scripts down to just a few paragraphs, but there are some techniques that can help you get the essential shape, flow, style, emotional intensity and personal voice that you need.
Today’s tip comes courtesy of the great Randy Ingermanson who uses it in his Snowflake Method for writing novels.
Three Disasters and an Ending
Disaster One – At the end of the first paragraph, a disaster hits the protagonist and forces her to make a crucial decision – to fight for her goal.
Disaster Two – End of para 2, another disaster forces her to rethink, regroup and learn.
Disaster Three – Three paragraphs in, things are getting seriously grim, the third disaster forces her to face the final denouement or else.
Ending – Kind of speaks for itself. She wins, she loses, she wins a bit and loses a bit… your choice.
There are variations.
For example one disaster could take place shortly after the start (or even flash back to before the start!) leaving room for more thoughtful middle.
Each paragraph could be two paragraphs, or three, or a page.
And of course, you need to make adjustments if you’re writing in 2 Acts, 7 Acts, or No Acts, TV drama series or sitcom!
But the basic shape will build you a strong structure, whether you are writing straight to DVD or arthouse drama, cinema or TV – Enter The Dragon or Amour, Django Unchained or Hamlet, Lincoln or All About My Mother, Juno, Shameless, Borgen or The New Normal..
You can read more in Randy’s excellent book Writing Fiction For Dummies.
Which leaves flow, style, intensity, unusual structures and personal voice – but those are for another day.
We go into all this and more in my own Exciting Treatment workshops – there’s one coming up very soon in London on February 16th. If you’re interested, I’d love to see you, but you’ll need to be quick. Places are filling up fast.