What is a script outline?
A script outline is a concise description of the whole script, containing characters, loglines, synopses and an overview of the acts. This is then usually built out and developed into a treatment.
This is an important step to take before writing your script. The outline allows you to combat writer’s block and gives you a structure in which you will use to build the script. You have an overview of where the story is heading, who the characters are and what their wants and needs are.
What are the benefits of having a script outline?
The script outline is one of the most important aspects of preparation before you write your script. This can save you from having to consistently change your script and the direction. It proves beneficial for writer’s block and helps resolve any issues when determining the next step in your movie. Here we breakdown the key aspects to a script outline.
- The Logline
- Overview of the three act structure
The logline is a brief summary, usually limited to one line, which encompasses the core idea of your film. It’s a vital part of the script outline. It can ultimately determine if someone reads it at a production house. Junior roles are usually tasked with scanning through the multitude of scripts they receive and if your logline doesn’t pop out and catch their imagination, you’ll be left in the dark. Your script could be amazing, but if the logline and treatment are average, the chances are your script will be missed.
A synopsis is a summary that shares the plot and key factors of the story. It described the world of your story and the fundamental factors. It can actually be the deciding factor on whether your script sells or not, combined with the logline – you’ll want these informative, gripping and to the point.
How do I actually write one of these?
Well… When writing the synopsis you’ll want to include the following elements and structure it as below:
- Length – keep it to one page
- Tone – Present tense
- Characters – offer something unique when introducing them
- Dialogue – Include some relevant dialogue, but not too much. Keep it brief.
- The end – It’s essentially a written trailer, but you reveal the ending. No secrets, please!
Overview of the three act structure
The three act structure is a narrative model used in writing to separate the story into three acts – Act 1 (The beginning), Act 2 (The middle) and Act 3 (The end). These are also defined as the setup, the confrontation and the resolution.
It’s integral to the creation of a story.
You need to build the character’s world in Act 1 and show the audience who they are, who their friends and family are. What is their routine? What do they do for a job? Who do they hang out with? What are their daily struggles?
As you come towards the end of Act 1, you have to force them to act upon their fears. What’s the inciting incident? How can you make the character change their ways?
READ MORE: What is the 3 act structure in film?
Act 2 is one of the most difficult parts to write, you enter through the end of the inciting incident through to the rising action. You want to keep the readers engaged and the action slowly building higher and higher throughout the act. Act 2 is how you navigate through the story from start to finish.
Act 3. You’re finally here! This is the climax to everything that has been building in the previous two act’s.
The characters facing their fears, the obstacles that have to be removed from their directions, approaching their feelings and reaching their goals. This what Act 3 is about, a head-on collision with their individual confrontations.
Your character/s deal with their problems and this leaves their world changed for the good… Or bad, forever.
READ MORE: You are now ready to develop your treatment!
Resources: Save the Cat – Blake Snyder