Master the art of ‘The Treatment’

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A lot of writers dive into writing a script before they even have a fully constructed plan. Treatments are widely used in television to pitch a proof of concept idea before committing to writing the full film or episode. A lot of film writers neglect to write a treatment, often early in a writers career he/she will write pages and pages of work that never see the light of day.

So could using a treatment help you prioritize and organize your workload better?

Well the simple answer is yes.

A concise, well written document outlining your writing project helps you in a number of ways. Firstly it gives you a clear blueprint of your story and can tell you if your story is hitting all the right beats. Secondly it can help you see how to get from A to B and prevent you getting lost in story tangents. Thirdly it can also help you find some of the weaker elements and plot holes in your story. Finally it can help get your script into the hand of a commissioner or a producer who could get your project off the ground.

Television Pilots and Series

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I’ve seen and heard conflicting things about how a treatment should look. If you have done some research you’ll see that some writers recommend that you stick to the rules:

  • White plain paper
  • Black ink
  • Calibri 12 point
  • NO ILLUSTRATIONS.

These rules are fine to follow if you’re submitting to a production company who have asked you to follow these guidelines. If you’re pitching a pilot or series, ignore all of these rules.

The best treatments have illustrations, images and photographs. A treatment should serve as a visual aid in helping a commissioner see why your project stands out. You NEED your project to get picked up and looked at and most importantly, be remembered.

Ensure you write passionately about your project and write in an active present tense. Stick to the main story and avoid going into subplots in the initial treatment.

 

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