Friday, 17 January 2014

Scriptwriting Basics: Part 1

We've just started the writing process for the pilot episode. Scriptwriting when done properly is quite a long process, and for the writers, this starts a 2 month process of scriptwriting.
A re-enactment of what went on in our first meeting.
For those interested in our process, here’s a little explanation on what is going on.

Step 1: The Brainstorm
Ideas, ideas, ideas. This stage is all about playing with scenarios, exploring character types and mulling over back stories. During this period, we write anything down that you think would be a good idea. This  lasts for as long as time allows. When we come together in a group, we would then spend a good full day just trading, combining and discussing ideas/scenarios/characters in front of a whiteboard. All this becomes ammunition for the next step in the process.

Step 2: The Framework
We believe a story should be constructed by first setting out a start point and an end point. These are, some of the most important parts. By filling in the middle afterwards, the plot would naturally push itself forward, not sideways or in loops. The ‘meat’ of the story is one of the hardest parts. If the brainstorm is done right, filling in the framework should not feel like rocket science. It is important to make sure this framework adheres to any constraints, such as length, estimated budget, time, intended audience etc.

Step 3: Treatment
After a decent framework has been completed, the treatment needs to be written. This treatment is basically a short story based on the framework. This is when character personalities start coming to life. Through the treatment, the voice of the writer becomes apparent. Make sure to show your vision of how things will look, describe dialogue, actions and emotions. Keep the writing concise.  A well written treatment should engage the reader, be clear and easy to understand and detailed enough that anyone can pick it up and enjoy the story.  If this is not the case, the story is probably, badly paced, poorly written or just bland. To detect these issues, we peer review our treatments.

Peer Review One
Peer reviews are the bread and butter of making a script better. Whether it’s a friend, an experienced writer or even yourself; peer review. No first draft is perfect and it takes many revisions to get even close to perfection. Of course, how close you get to perfect is all down to time constraints and who you are writing for. The treatment stage is best for reviewing and revising as it takes much less time to write a short story than a script. A treatment can be easily reshuffled and parts rewritten. Be a ruthless here, make sure anyone who looks at it is prepared to tear you a new one. This will clear your future script of most structural issues and will allow future script revisions to be more focussed towards readability and the all-important dialogue.

We’re only halfway through. There are three more stages to go through before a finished script comes out of the other end. Watch this space for the second instalment which focuses on writing  the script.

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