Pros And Cons Of Outlining A Screenplay by Erik Bork

Film Courage: Do you outline all of your work every time?

Erik Bork, Author/Screenwriter: I do outline all of my work and I think most screenwriters do. But as with everything in the writing process there is no one definite, cookie-cutter method that always works great all the time. I am always aware that every new project is like a new adventure and a new kind of chaotic mess of the process of how it turns into whatever it turns into.

Outlining, preplanning everything has its obvious pros and cons. The cons are that maybe there is a spontaneity that’s lost or it could go in some direction and surprise you if you just free wrote and didn’t know where it was going which I think novelist tend to do and maybe some screenwriters do that too.

The pro of outlining is that you have a solid story structurally and you kind of figure it all out in a way that is hard to do when you are in the middle of writing scenes.

I think screenwriting tends to require that structure more because another reason I with novel writing, you can be inside a character’s head and in screenwriting you’re really describing action that people are taking. What they are physically doing that we would see and what they are saying. A lot of the content of the story is underneath that and in a novel you can just write that other content because a lot of it is internal thoughts. Not every novel has internal thoughts but many do. Whereas in a screenplay you usually can’t really do that. For the audience to understand what is going on in the story and what it all means and what people want and feel you have to construct it in a way that is a Rubik’s Cube where if you don’t pre-plan it, it’s like impossible to solve it seems like. It’s probably not impossible but that has been my experience and my training. I outline and I usually recommend that writers do but some people work better where they can jump into scenes at an …(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

About : Erik Bork is a screenwriter best known for his work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, for which he wrote multiple episodes, and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards as part of the producing team. Erik has also sold series pitches (and written pilots) at NBC and FOX, worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies like Universal, HBO, TNT, and Playtone. He teaches screenwriting for UCLA Extension, National University and The Writers Store, and offers one-on-one consulting to writers.

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Scriptapalooza Screenplay & Shorts Competition  Over 90 producers reading $50,000 in prizes

Scriptapalooza Screenplay & Shorts Competition. Over 90 producers reading. $50,000 in prizes.