Monday, July 6, 2009

Working on the treatment for the producution

According to Syd Field's screenwriting tips - I've almost completed the second step in preparing the Zombie Dinosaurs story.

First, you generate the idea, then break down the idea into the subject, a character and action. Once you have the subject, you know enough to structure it by determining the ending, the beginning, and Plot Points I and II. Once that’s done, you can build and expand your characters by writing character biographies, along with any other research you may need to do. Then you can structure the scenes and sequences, the content, of Act I on fourteen 3 X 5 cards. Next write up the back story, what happens a day, a week, or an hour before the story begins. Only after you’ve completed this preparation work can you begin writing the screenplay (p. 22).

So I've written a few biographies for a couple of characters, designed Plot Point I, I'm developing Plot Point II, still, and have pieced together a bunch of scenes to get this story moving along.

It will be titled Tomb of the Undead, in a series I'm calling Unbelievably Amazing Adventures. So far, it's sounding pretty good, and I'm really into it - but again, I've got to do some more development in the second act and especially on Plot Point II.

The Exercise: Take your idea and begin to isolate the elements of the action and character of your proposed story line…. Write three or more pages in order to gain more clarity on the story you want to tell. Then use your free-association essay to isolate the elements of action – what happens and the character to whom it happens.

Once you’ve done that, reduce it into three separate paragraphs, beginning, middle, and end. Start honing each paragraph by summarizing the beginning into a few sentences; specify the character and what happens to him or her during the course of the screenplay.

Reduce each paragraph to a sentence or two according to what happens in the action and then how it affects the character…. What’s the resolution? Can you incorporate that into the subject line? Be general in your descriptions at this point and not specific in terms of action…. Go through the material and high-light things that help define the action or character (p. 24).

Note: We see the story line unfold through the eyes of that character, through his or her point of view. We are privy to the character’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, words, actions, memories, dreams, hopes, ambitions, opinions and more…. The main thrust always returns to the main character, the one who the story is about. In a novel the action takes place inside the character’s head, within the mindscape of dramatic action (p. 29).

NOTE: How do we get from Act I, the Set-Up, into Act II, the Confrontation? And how do we get from Act II, the Confrontation, into Act III, the Resolution? The answer: to create a Plot Point at the end of Act I and Act II. A Plot Point is defined as any incident, episode or event that ‘hooks’ into the action and spins it around into another direction, in this case, into either Act II or Act III (p. 49).

NOTE: Before you can write one word on paper, you must know four things: your ending, your beginning, Plot Point I, and Plot Point II. Only when you know these four elements can you start to ‘build’ or structure your story (p. 51).

NOTE: Do you know what has to happen to resolve the story line? What is the solution? Not the specifics, only the generalities.

To recap:

In half a page – write a dramatic recreation of the opening scene or sequence;

In half a page – write a narrative synopsis of the action summarizing what happens during the rest of Act I;

In half a page – write a dramatic recreation of the Plot Point at the end of Act I;

Then, on a separate sheet of paper, write four obstacles – either internal or external, or some combination of both – that your character confronts during Act II. Then:

In a page – write a narrative synopsis, summarizing the action of Act II by focusing on four conflicts that confront your character. It could be as simple as a couple of sentences describing each obstacle;

Then write:

In half a page – a dramatic recreation of the Plot Point at the end of Act II;

In half a page – a narrative synopsis of the action in Act III, the Resolution;

Then, in half a page – write a dramatic recreation of the ending scene or sequence of the screenplay.

That’s a four-page treatment. “Proof of authorship” you can register it online at and click on registration (p. 74).

So I'm working on Step 2, and I'm almost done with this four-page treatment. Again, I keep getting stuck on Plot Point II and some scenes in the second act, but that's part of the development schedule. I can think of two more characters I should write biographies for, as well.

Once these items are wrapped up - then I can start working on the screenplay.

And for the way-future - I'm reading a book on how to develop comic strips. Basically, this idea isn't likely to work in a novel format, nor a live-action film - so I'm seriously think about developing this as a graphic novel/ comic book. BUT that is WAY in the future - this script might take an awful long time, let alone the artwork (which I'm not sure I'd like to do myself or not).

Anyhow - I'll post progress as it comes up.

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Hey there, I am glad you have taken the time to leave a comment. Thanks - I am looking forward to reading it.