So last time, I left off with the basics of how to properly

Screenwriting Made Very Easy II: Treatments
By A. Diaz
So last time, I left off with the basics of how to properly format a script, as well as how to
get the gaggle of ideas out of your head. So, you now know how a script should LOOK and
how to deal with some of your first timer anxieties and idea gushes. But what next? What is
the next stepping stone towards actually writing a proper script? You´ve brainstormed your
ideas and found something that fits together, or you have an entire narrative already inside
your mind and wish to translate it to the written form. What happens now?
Well, the next key step is your outline and treatment, usually the latter being the bigger tool. So you
have your brainstorm scrap of paper there with you, you select your best choices, and you start
piecing your narrative together. The outline here serves as the skeleton of the story, all of the events
presented in order. Very basic and probably a tool you´ve been taught many times for other writing
styles. It is useful in organizing your top choices to form some kind of actual story. But this alone is
not going to cut it, as it´s too vague and even the most basic writing guide or class out there will
show you that ´the devil is in the details´. This is where your treatment comes back into the tale.
Now, there´s a bit of confusion when it comes to treatments in the world of film production, so I´ll
clear this up for you: a script treatment is purely about the story, and is not related to production
treatments, which are used more as general project outlines and are part of the pitching process.
Unless you´re also the producer, this is not your concern, so push that out of your mind and focus.
YOUR treatment is basically like a really detailed synopsis, covering all the events of the story in
paragraphs of prose. To be rather crude, it´s essentially like writing the ´Plot´section for the film´s
Wikipedia page. Here, you can discuss the details of what happens in the story, who does what and
how, in more detail than the basic droplets in an outline.
So, here´s how one should look, broken down much like the script format from the last chapter:
Treatment for (INSERT TITLE)
NAME: Please tell me I do not need to explain THIS....
GENRE: Put in as many as you like if you feel your film falls into the category (Horror,
Fantasy, Action, Romance, Science Fiction etc.)
LOGLINE: Sort of a one or two sentence sum up of your piece, almost like a marketing
INFLUENTIAL MOVIE), a tale of blah blah blah etc.
CHARACTERS: This can be greatly expanded upon as individual documents in their own right,
but this is your basic central cast list, with a brief biography on each one. If you want to write
more, feel free to do so, but those can be their own pages, and this is again, just for the sake
of a quick reference as you write.
OUTLINE: Now here is the good stuff. Several paragraphs (size depends on the lengths of
your film or episode) detailing the events of the story from start to finish.
Here´s a very basic example, from an earlier version of one of my short scripts, of how it should look
once you input the proper details:
Treatment for Little Visitor
Name: A. Diaz
Genre: Children’s, fantasy, drama.
Logline: A blend of Mary Poppins and the works of Hayao Miyazaki, finding magic in the mundane.
Bobby: 10 year old son of Carl and Maria. Lonely kid who finds himself unable to talk his
anxieties with his parents.
Carl: Bobby’s father, early 30s, a well meaning loafer who cares about his son but doesn´t
quite know how to approach him.
Maria: Bobby’s Mother, early 30s, a workaholice and serious woman of business.
Bobo: An ambigiously magical creature whom Bobby ´accidentally´stumbles upon while
playing, and helps out him out in his time of need.
Little Visitor deals with Bobby, a ten year old boy whose parents, Maria and Carl, have just gone
through divorce proceedings. With custody split between the two, Bobby spends the weekends with
Carl. However, his relations with his father are rather icy, to put it mildly, often distrustful and
uneasy about talking to his dad. Carl tries to communicate, but Bobby gives him the cold shoulder
and runs out. Then, a strange thing happens: An odd little black and white creature, simply named
‘Bobo’, appears, and decides to help.
The following morning, Bobby awakens to a peculiar sight: it’s snowing in spring! Amazed, he goes
outside to play, and Carl, after talking with his mother, tries to join him, but the problem sets in
again and he flees. Running away, Bobo sees this and, looking around for an alternative, spots the
attic, and opens it. Exploring around inside, Bobby finds Carl’s old collection of stop motion tools.
Finding him there, the two begin to talk about it, and then, at Bobby’s behest, start practicing.
Viewing back the results, Bobby’s walls start to come down again, and he and Carl manage to talk.
The following day however, things begin to change again: Maria arrives, unexpectedly, and decides
to take Bobby. Carl and her are clearly not on the best of face-to-face terms. Observing this, the
Critter decides to step up his game a little bit. He pulls up a few more magic acts, in an effort to try
and get the family talking together again. First, he blows out Maria’s tires, so she can’t leave. Bobby
discovers him finally in the act, and Bobo communicates his good intentions via an etch-a-sketch.
Ultimately though, the magic doesn’t quite work out, and this leads to a heated confrontation where
Carl and Maria burst into a full on argument about why their marriage failed, and what’s good for
Bobby, and Bobby himself coming in and pointing out that they never asked HIM about it. They
reconcile and Bobo leaves.
Again, depending on who you are and what you´re doing, this will be a lot longer or shorter. Don´t
be frightened or nervous, this is just part of the creative process, and will allow you to fix a lot of
issues early on by spotting them here. It´s a great time saver and will be invaluable, especially if
you´re a newbie. You won´t be writing the next great classic of cinema right now, so don´t get too
antsy over it and just hammer away.
And so, we come to the end yet again. Remember, practice, practice, and then practice some more!
That is truly the only way to win the screenwriting game, regardless if you´re making a feature, short
or television pilot. You can and should experiment and play around and test, seeing what you can
do, and what needs work. Best of luck!
©SavageScribe 2015