Outlining Your Script to Find Your Story

Hosted by Steve Desmond

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Steve Desmond

Webinar hosted by: Steve Desmond

Screenwriter (Warner Bros., Film Nation), Filmmaker

Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, and Mandalay, amongst others. In honing his craft as a writer, Steve has leaned heavily on the art of outlining and has used it to find success for his work. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Outlining isn’t for everyone. But if you find yourself struggling with where to begin, or getting stuck in the middle of a draft, or if the concept of writing a full screenplay just feels too daunting, then an effective outline can help make the process easier. An outline helps you to dive into your story before you begin writing, so that you can craft a plan for turning your vision into a reality. If your screenplay is a house, the outline is the architectural blueprint. Mastering outlining can elevate your next project to new heights and convince more people to take notice in your story.

It happens to everyone: You have an idea that you’re passionate about and leap into writing page one. But eventually, that initial spark wears off and it’s a struggle to figure out what to write next. Outlining is a great way to curate your ideas into a game plan so you can hold on to that spark. But in order to have a successful plan and structure for your screenplay, it’s crucial to know not only how to outline, but to read what that outline is telling you about your story. Let’s take a closer look.

Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, and Mandalay, amongst others. In honing his craft as a writer, Steve has leaned heavily on the art of outlining and has used it to find success for his work.

Steve will provide tips and best practices for outlining to help you better prepare for writing your script and zero in on your project’s story and structure. He’ll explain the positives and negatives of outlining and how to find the outlining approach that’s best for you. He’ll also discuss how best to research and the benefits of creating a notes document. Steve will delve into ironing out your premise, focusing in on theme and tone, and building out characters. He will talk about three act structure and his own “build the bridge” method for outlining. Finally he’ll discuss next steps after you finish your first go at the outline.

Expect to leave with strategies and ideas you can take back with you to better organize and attack your own script.

 

 

Praise for Steve's Previous Stage 32 Webinars:

 

"This was fantastic. Steve offered so much insight, dozens of little nuggets that rang true or gave me pause to think of something I'd never considered before."
-Ed K.



"Perfectly laid out, clear and concise material taught by a genial host!"
-George P.



"Steve was fantastic. His examples and insights were on point. Thanks!"
-Adam H.



"I made 3 pages of notes; good pertinent topics with simple fundamental answers presented. Very helpful, worth the time and fee."
-Thomas W.

What You'll Learn

  • Why Outline?
  • The Big Picture
    • Writing is a mixture of organic and organization.
    • Finding the balance
    • How to not get stuck on planning.
    • Setting deadlines
  • Choose the Outline That’s Right for You
    • The short and loose version
    • The long and detailed version
  • Doing Your Research
    • Picking 2-5 movies and how to take notes on them.
  • Creating a Notes Document
    • An idea notebook
    • When to know that you have enough
  • Ironing out your Premise
    • Writing a logline for a new reason
    • 2 important questions to ask yourself when landing on your premise
  • Theme & Tone
    • Why theme is the foundation of everything
    • Sharpening your tone before you begin
  • Characters
    • Building the foundation, then giving them the reins
    • Finding their voice
    • Planning out your character arcs
  • Basic 3 Act Structure
    • Learn the rules before you break them
    • Defining the Terms
    • Page Count Breakdown
  • Steve's "Build the Bridge Method" for Outlining
    • Filling in the bridge
    • Visualization Techniques
  • What Happens Next
    • Outlining as you Write
    • Outlines for New Drafts
  • Q&A with Steve

About Your Instructor

Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, and Mandalay, amongst others. In honing his craft as a writer, Steve has leaned heavily on the art of outlining and has used it to find success for his work.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Informative and very helpful tips for outlining. I particularly like Steve's open and flexible and yet methodical aproach. Made a lot of sense. I certainly have new tools and ideas to consider when outlining.

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