Mersey woman about town


I need treatment

How do you make YOUR script stand out of the slush pile?

…well I do for my film and other scripts, anyway.

Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon at a workshop, part of the Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman’s Everyword Festival entitled“Treatments And You Thought Writing The Script Was Hard” run by Amy Buscombe, Head of Development at  Liverpool’s LA Productions who make shows such as Moving On, Justice and Liverpool 1.

The workshop did what it says on the tin, and helpful because writing treatments – that is, a pitch or a précis of what your proposed idea – is always a bugger to master.
Amy brought along examples of treatments submitted by writers of the new series of Moving On. The different styles – some were in depth and one in particular very brief – showed how difficult treatments are to get your head around; indeed Amy reported that many successful writers struggle penning treatments and can’t stand doing them. (Good to hear I’m in good company then!)
She stressed that when she reads a submission by a writer she reaches for the script first to see if the writing is top notch before she leafs through the treatment.   

I was interested to hear that the most common reason for rejection isn’t rubbish writing or slack baggy plot lines – it’s duplication in that they’ve already got something similar. Fresh ideas are a must! 

With treatments, Amy recommended:

* Be reasonably brief – communicate our idea in as short a way as possible.
* Clarity of purpose – what is the script about, what is the story?
* Is there a conflict/drama at the heart of your script?
* Explain your character(s) – who do we love, hate, route for?
* Think of an effective way of introducing your character – one way in is the first day in a job.
* Write your treatment in the main character’s voice – to give a sense of them.  * If you’re writing a comedy, the pitch should be funny; if a drama one should really believe it.
* Whose point of view is your script from? Whose story is it, who are we with?
* Be beware of complicated detail – the big picture is needed, don’t get bogged down.
* A log line isn’t necessary but is useful; that is, 2 or 3 sentences which tells you the whole thing and sums everything up.
* Give a sense of your script’s  ‘world’  – where it is, what the rules are etc
* Say what the big concept or big idea is – is your story about a friendship or a family, for example?
* Emphasise the script’s hook – what is unusual, fresh and surprising about it. *Why should YOU get commissioned and not the next script in the pile?
* Consider the story’s medium, format, channel and time slot. Something with adult content – say sexual activity or drug taking – wouldn’t be suitable for daytime telly or when kiddie winkies are watching!

Above all says Amy, if you want to write for telly then make sure you watch it. This might sound like common sense but I’ve met many people working on novels but who don’t read. Barking.

The Everyword festival continues until the end of next week with more workshops, readings, performances. It includes a session with BBC Writersroom next Friday afternoon. I’m going to that so if you are as well, come over and say howdy.

5 comments on “I need treatment

  1. Laila Murphy
    November 9, 2011

    Great post Cath. So wish I could go to these things instead of wasting my time in paid employment!!

  2. Thanks for this. Really useful. V depressed by the ‘new ideas’ stuff, having always bought the ‘originality is a chimera and a waste of time’ booo. Thought I’d be able to get away with skillful plagiarism as whatsit says – Voltaire or whoever. Cathy x

  3. cathbore
    November 9, 2011

    Skillful plagiarism must take as much effort as coming up with something new!

  4. Lyndon64
    November 10, 2011

    HI Great article, I hope to give up the day job too and do what I really want to do. Love your blog.

  5. cathbore
    November 10, 2011

    Thanks for reading and your comment, Matthew. I hope your writing is going well

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2011 by in Liverpool, writing and tagged , , , , , , , .

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