The #1 Reason Why You Won’t Finish A Screenplay by Scott Myers

Film Courage: Is outlining a must?

Scott Myers, DePaul University Professor/Screenwriter/Creator Gointothestory.blcklst(dot)com Again, every writer is different. I would say if you have any pretensions of working in TV, yes. No project goes to script (no episode) unless they break it in prep and that typically involves either a beat sheet or an outline. 

On the feature side of things, if you’re writing on spec and you’ve got 12 months and you want to start with Fade In: and see where it goes, that’s okay.

But I definitely recommend outlining. If you’ve not outlined, you should outline at least once and see what that process is like.

The way I approach it that I think enlivens the experience is (as I said before) we work with the characters. So week one protagonist character treatment, ask seven key questions of the protagonist so you are engaging them and really digging down into who they are. Questions like What do they fear most? That’s an interesting question. Why does this story have to happen to this character at this time? Think about their sort of place in life.

Second week we do brainstorming, some of those exercises I was talking about, questionnaires, biographies, these direct engagement exercises, interviews, monologues and steams of consciousness. Third week we now move to plot so we talk about what is the beginning of the story? What is the end of Act one? What is the end of Act 2? What is the end of the story? Just to get a sense of those four primary plot line points. 

But we are also identifying subplots. My principle there is SubPlot = A Relationship. So whatever character you’ve come up with, the primary characters in your story then start to look at them in terms of their relationships and if you can work with character archetypes, that’s very helpful. Oh? This is a protagonist-attractor relationship, this is a protagonist-mentor relationship, etcetera.

And so you start to think in terms of subplots and in week four we do the psychological domain and we talk about these four theme line movements, disunity, deconstruction, reconstruction, unity…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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