Screenwriting : The Treatment: Why? Why Not? by Chris Cox

Chris Cox

The Treatment: Why? Why Not?

I've decided to dust off a 15 year old script and begin the arduous task of a total rewrite. I usually create a simple outline to give myself a star to steer this lumbering vessel by while I agonize over details. But, now I am considering a 2-5 page treatment.

Do you feel that script treatments help readers or would you prefer to pick up a script and read it completely, while absorbing the story without any preconceived notions? I see arguments online touting pros and cons. What say you?

Dan Guardino

I agree with Laura.

Renee Buck

When I'm faced with this, I go back to the beginning with a simple beat sheet (in word). When all the beats feel right and the story/character arcs are compelling, THEN I attempt the new outline (in screenwriting software). After I feel like my outline is pretty strong, I get feedback from other writers, and THEN move forward to fleshing out.

Brian Shell

I often like the treatment is getting into the bullring, but the matador still has to "wrestle the bull"... write the actual words for 90-120 sparse yet thrilling pages.

Phil Parker

I agree with Laura. I write comprehensive outlines and beat sheets for myself, but I don't use them as calling cards to get someone to read the actual script.

Chris Cox

Well, so far everyone seems to be of like mind. Thanks for the comments.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I work in a variety of ways. I've written scripts without any outlines, using scene by scene treatments, a short synopsis and with detailed outlines. All those ways have worked for me.

Bill Costantini

I like the way it's taught in the 500-level writing class at USC. Students have to create a 20-25 page step outline/treatment, fleshing out the story to its maximum potential through that comprehensive analytical and creative process. It takes about six weeks of classroom instruction/homework to complete the treatment phase. It must certainly give the students who complete that class a deep understanding of story development.

Chris Cox

Since I am scrapping the guts of the original story and basically starting from scratch with only the frame or theme only as my foundation, I've decided to outline the story first. I'll save the treatment for the tv ideas. You guys are a fantastic resource! Thanks for all of the advice and tips.

Doug Nelson

Whatever floats your boat.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In