Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing

Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.

— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hug a Treatment Today

I'VE TALKED BEFORE about how much I love creating a script from a treatment (see Treatment Blitz), even though for most of my other writing I'd rather fly by the seat of my pants. My most recent experience has reconfirmed this so deeply, I ended up wanting to hug my treatment for being so good to me.

Last week I finished the first draft of my second screenplay; a dramedy set on the Oregon coast. But first, using my treatment, I reconnected with it after a break of eight months.

So much had happened to me during those intervening months, I doubt my brain cells could have retained the story without a memory aid. Plus back then I had written four treatments in a very short time—that's too many stories for my 51-year-old brain to keep track of without cue cards.

So that was the first gift my treatment gave me: I was able to reconnect with my story after a long break, rediscovering my passion for my characters and their doings.

When I opened my dramedy in Movie Magic on September 26, I was starting on Page 36. As a self-imposed deadline, I gave myself a comfortable two weeks of writing approximately five pages per day. Instead, I finished in one week—a week that consisted of only three days where I actually worked on the script.

(I finished on Page 83, having purposely skipped over some places that I prefer to expand on later, such as parts that require research.)

Apart from the shortness of the first draft, the main reason I finished so soon was because my treatment served my well. I had done such a complete job of it, sections of the script were practically writing themselves as I transplanted, for example, fully-developed dialogue from the treatment to the script.

Perhaps every screenwriter who uses a treatment has this kind of experience. Or perhaps it's because I do so well writing the story out in regular prose first (albeit in the style of a treatment template vs. classic storytelling, as in a novel). I don't know which it is because I haven't talked to other screenwriters who rely on treatments to write from. All I know is the glorious feeling of finishing in half the time because I'd done the prep.

I'm hooked!

P.S. I use the treatment template in Writing Treatments That Sell by Kenneth Atchity and Chi-Li Wong. Theirs was the first book related to the craft of screenwriting that I ever read, and I'm glad that's how I got started: on what still feels like the right foot.

Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver's Travels and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer's Muse Coaching Service.


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