Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reader question: mistakes on treatments

Escarondito asked:

What are some common mistakes that people make on treatments? And if you don't know that. What is the one thing that automatically when you see it in the first 10 pages of a script you already know it's over(their chances).

Well, I don't read many treatments, but I think there are two mistakes people are likely to make with treatments.

1) Not making them detailed enough - if they haven't produced a full breakdown of their story with all the plot twists and character arcs, the result might be a thin script with little depth. The idea is to come up with enough details so that your scenes don't come up woefully thin when written in script form. If you can, use the treatment to highlight how every scene provokes a change in the story and relates to the protagonist's arc.

2) Spending too much time on them - writing treatments can quickly become an exercise in killing time. You might convince yourself that doing all of this prewriting is saving you a headache in the long run. You'll spend months on the treatment, all under the claim that it's helping you write a better script, when all you're really doing is procrastinating. Prewriting is important, but there comes a time when you have to stop easing yourself into the cold pool that is the script and just dive in and get used to the water.

As for the second one, what can tell me in ten pages that a script is beyond saving?

- Bad formatting
- Terrible, terrible dialogue - especially bad exposition in dialogue
- An excessively long script. A script over 120 with more than one these problems is on shaky ground. ANY script over 130 will suck, and if your script is over 140 and you STILL submit it, you have a bright future in writing argumentative emails to me telling me I don't know what I'm talking about.
- More than one instance where an action paragraph is more than five lines long.
- Description of a main character's breasts or ass that is longer than the description of any of the other main characters.
- Any sort of extra materials like concept art, a CD to listen to, or a market research pack. ("No, really. I SWEAR there's a market for this!")

Oh, and if they do what this genius did. Just go read that entry. I can't do it justice with a summary.

Great question. Keep 'em coming, folks!

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the extra material: I just assembled the package for a pitch to an executive. I did a SWOT analysis, character breakdowns with images, concepts and actors "ideas", some concept art, the synopsis and the treatment. It's made for the executives, to help them get an idea of what the movie could be. But I hope that only the treatment ends up in the hand of the reader.