Outline, Outline, and Outline!
I’m learning pretty quick that one doesn’t need just character bios and a beat sheet, though those are the necessary backbones, before writing FADE IN. Rewrites suck and nothing is more time-consuming and soul-crushing than having to do major rewrites on a completed 110-page script. Am I right?
Well, that’s how I feel about it. Going from a beat sheet to a more fleshed-out outline helps piece the story together and gives us a clearer view of the whole picture. I don’t leave it at that, though. I take my outline and write it into a short story, then I make the necessary changes to my original outline and add more detail, some crucial dialogue, and location information. By the time, I’m done writing the last outline, the script has pretty much written itself. Then, I go back to the beat sheet and change that if necessary. Once I’m happy with it, that’s when I sit down and write my script.
I don’t have a ton of screenwriting experience and I’m always learning about little tricks and shortcuts. This, though, is something no one should short-cut themselves on doing. On my first two screenplays, I went straight into writing after I wrote up the beat sheet and all I’ve been doing for the past year is rewrite them. Well, that’s not all that I’ve been doing, but you get the idea. The first script that I did with all of the outlining was a short film script and it turned out to be the best example of my writing so far. Coincidence? I think not. So, my mantra is now – Outline, outline, and outline!
What’s your screenwriting routine?