Monday, April 03, 2006

Chronicles 3 - The Outline a.k.a. where the hell am I?

The Outline

Okay, somehwere around:

Spring 2001

I started putting an outline together. I was approaching the point where I felt I could write authentic rich, upper-class characters and describe their world in vivid detail. It was no longer this fuzzy, out-of-focus realm with cliched, stock, 2-D characters. These characters might actually have something interesting to say.

I needed to build some sort of chessboard to move these pieces around on. This would be my outline. When I start writing I want to be able to write a scene and once its done know where I'm going next. If I've got my outline I know the road ahead and I can just keep writing and churn out my first draft. Of course, the final screenplay isn't written in stone and ideas tend to shoot out of the unconcious through the very act of wriitng itself, so, there is room for the unexpected but it does help to have a basic road map.

I've heard of writers who just start writing their scripts with no real idea of where their going. A sort of Zen approach. I've often thought of trying this out since it can be an interesting process to discover the characters and in my experience that only happens when they start talking and acting. Such a spontaneous draft could then be a basis for the outlining process. I opted for the outline first approach.

Once I had my rag-tag collection of scenes I started to give them SCENE HEADINGS in Final Draft (INT. MANSION - DAY) and gave the scenes a brief description or ACTION as it is described in screenplay format terms.

Final Draft has a scene navigator which allows you to view and re-arrange scenes. The navigator will also move the actual scenes in the script. I used the navigator to create the outline being aware of structure in terms of plot points and acts.

Once this was done I was ready to write the first draft. This process of outlining and researching and scene gathering seemed to melt into each other and from:

April 2001 to September 2001

I had this evolving pre-first-draft mix of screenplay scenes, treatments scenes and idea/resource material that eventually ended up in the first draft screenplay in:

September 9th 2001

I then went through 5 drafts which were essentially more polishes than major rewrites. The script was now at 143 pages. See Chronicles 2