1. bdw8

    bdw8 Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    15

    Stuck iterating on a treatment...

    Discussion in 'Scripts' started by bdw8, Dec 17, 2019.

    Years ago, I sent my script to a consultant. Like many (all?) newbie writers, it had major structural issues -- but, the consultant seemed very interested in my concept, and strongly encouraged me not to give up on it. He suggested I turn it into a one-page synopsis, and iterate on that until it's solid. (He also offered to give feedback on that synopsis for free, which I take as a vote of confidence that it's workable.)

    After a couple years of iterating, I reached a point where the consultant effectively gave the synopsis a consider -- but it would need more detail, thus it was time to move on to the treatment. I've been iterating on the treatment now for over a year, and while the story is a hundred times better than my first draft (and ten times better than the synopsis he liked), I'm sick of it. Whenever I make a full pass over the treatment, I find it so incredibly boring that I want to give up.

    So, I'm stuck wondering why, and would love some insight. I have five leading theories:
    1. I've just read it too many times. Between the synopsis and the treatment, I've read it probably two hundred times. Would any story hold up after 200 readings? And, if it's not a problem, do I need to just keep pushing through?
    2. The story still needs major work. If it was really good -- good enough to break into the industry -- then no matter how many times I'd read it, I'd love it. (And, to be fair, I do still love the story -- I just hate reading it.)
    3. It's difficult to make treatments/synopses page-turners (or, I just don't know how). When I try to show what's happening, it doesn't fit -- at that point, I'm writing the script. So, I end up telling what's happening. There's little-to-no dialogue, little suspense, and even mystery is difficult to convey in such an abridged form. I have to tell what characters are thinking, tell what their arcs are, tell the mystery, etc.
    4. I stink at writing. Maybe I'm okay at coming up with the characters, setting and plot, but my writing is boring. I can't write a suspenseful sentence, let alone a suspenseful paragraph, scene or script.
    5. I've spent too many years on it / I don't have the energy. The problem is that I have a very mentally demanding day job and two young kids at home, so finding even a half-hour to write each day is a struggle. I'd like to work on it more, but just can't right now. Perhaps if I'd been able to iterate over the course of weeks or months, or if I had a different job, then I wouldn't feel so burnt out.
    Has anyone else felt this way, or does anyone have any insight or experience they can share?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
    Malisky likes this.
  2. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2018
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    105
    I think you've just been working on it too long. It also might have deviated so much that you feel disappointed that it's not your original story anymore. You may have also just lost hope with the story because you've had to work on it for so long.

    I can't really tell you why. It's hard to be introspective with so much going on but ask yourself the question and don't think about the answer, the one that pops into your head first is the answer and then you have to work out where you're going to go from there.

    It could also be that it's Christmas and you've probably got a lot going on with family and stuff. Just give it a rest for a while and come back in the New Year all refreshed. Take a break, don't think about it. Come back to it later.
     
    bdw8 likes this.
  3. bdw8

    bdw8 Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    15
    Thanks GrJs! Going with my gut, I think it's a combination of 1 and 3. At this point, I'm just anxious to get started writing the script. It's meant to be a fun, comedic adventure (think Indiana Jones), but I also want it to be a good, tightly-written story with proper character arcs, theme, etc. The treatment, focusing almost exclusively on the latter, doesn't have any breathing room or levity or humor, so it's tonally very different. It's too serious and not fun enough, which I think is why I find it so boring/exhausting to keep iterating. (This gives me an idea, though: perhaps I should try reading treatments of comedies.)

    Also, I think I'm a little disillusioned as I approach the end of my journey. Even though I'm still a way off from having a completed script, I truly feel that my current draft is as good as I can make it structurally (apart from minor changes) and if the consultant says it won't be good enough to sell, then that's it -- I have to finally give up on this project that I've invested so much time into, or else turn it into a book or video game. (I'm a software engineer by day, so I've been thinking quite a lot about the latter; it would play very nicely as a game and the story would probably be quite good by video game standards.)

    I have one scene that just needs a little massaging, then I'll be ready to submit it to the consultant... I think I need to push through just this last little bit and accept whatever feedback I get. Thanks again!
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    14,855
    Likes Received:
    16,490
    Location:
    Scotland
    Has a human being other than 'the consultant' had a look at it?

    I assume you've actually written the entire script, and not just a series of synopses. But if you haven't actually written the whole thing yet, I'd say go ahead and write it. Forget all the worry about the plot, character arcs, etc ...get the scenes visualised, get the characters to sound real in your head, get the setting to appear in your imagination ...and show us what's happening. That might well be the spark your story needs. As it is just now, it sounds as if you're just connecting dots. That's not going to inspire anybody.

    I'd say beware of taking too much advice from only one person, when it comes to writing. Maybe test it out on other people too. If you don't feel a strong benefit from this relationship you've forged with your consultant, I think you might want to try a different approach. Losing enthusiasm for your project is a major downturn.

    Maybe somebody else would see the strength in what you've written. I'd say punt it around a bit. Get people to read it, even if they're not consultants. You could even put some of it here, in the Workshop, to get a bit of unbiased feedback. See if other people's reactions can rekindle your enthusiasm.

    By the way, is it actually a 'script,' as in play/TV/movie? And I have to confess I haven't a clue what you mean by iteration. Do you mean 'version?'
     
    Steve Rivers likes this.
  5. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2019
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Somewhere deep in the heart of the UK
    I agree with Jan, taking all your cues from one person alone seems counter-productive. It sounds like you need more opinions, not only for discovering how your work is received, but also give you a larger base of constructive criticism that might give new ideas of how to solve the problems.
     
    jannert likes this.
  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    770
    Location:
    San Diego
    I’ve never iterated with a consultant, but I've used beta readers, and their input or lack of it are their credentials.
    I would want to know what are the credentials of the consultant. Have he/she written anything in your genre that would encourage you to stick with them? I’m just saying.
     
    Steve Rivers likes this.
  7. bdw8

    bdw8 Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    15
    Thanks for the replies, everyone! This sounds like good advice. Since I started the rewrite process with the consultant, no one else has read my script except my wife, and I know she's starting to feel some burnout, too. I'll try reaching out to others, and probably start driving towards a finished script.

    The consultant I'm using is Michael Ray Brown. He's not a writer, but he was a script consultant on Braveheart, Ace Ventura and Contact. He's also told me that he's an extremely tough critic, and from interviews with other writers who've used him, they say he's never really happy with a script, but you'll know when your script is in good shape when his criticisms start to focus on smaller details. With as tough as it is to sell a script, I'd hoped to get to this point with him... But, maybe it's too much to think I'd ever get there on a treatment, since the smaller details of a treatment translate to pretty significant script changes.
     
  8. Malisky

    Malisky Sirocco Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,577
    Likes Received:
    2,464
    Location:
    The Middle of Nowhere The Center of Everywhere
    Many a times. That's why I changed the way I go about this to the core. I don't know how common of a practice this is and probably won't be helpful, since you've already written down your script, but I start with the treatment (a rough one that might be) and then go on to write the script and then, I edit the treatment again after the script is done. The treatment helps me stay focused in a sense and since it's a lot shorter and finishes much rapidly than a script does, it gives me the wrap of what I want to say in the story, the highlighted points and a sense of getting the story out of my head (catching the momentum) and in front of my eyes. Whenever I lose track when writing a script, I read the treatment.

    I don't know how else to help you with that than send you a link that has great screenplay treatments (the movie might not be great, but the treatments are good), in order for you to get inspired by them.

    https://www.simplyscripts.com/treatments.html

    This has helped me in the past.

    Goodluck with your script! :)
     
    bdw8 and Steve Rivers like this.
  9. bdw8

    bdw8 Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    15
    Thank you, Malisky -- this sounds like a very good approach! I find it much easier / more satisfying to write a script than a treatment, but I've tried to stop myself from doing that because the treatment is so much easier to work with.Yet, it's also pretty simple to turn a script back into a treatment, so I can see this saving a lot of time and frustration. I will definitely be giving this a try!
     
    Malisky likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice