In short, the screenply story deconstruction process I employ looks like this:
- Analyze the story summary to define at a granular level key story elements or “beats.”
- Group these elements topically into individual story threads.
- Represent the elements and threads visually and physically on printed index cards.
- Arrange the story threads on a large bulletin board from left to right according to where they fit on the story timeline.
- Use this visual mapping to aid in planning how and when and where to reveal each thread and its elements on the movie’s timeline.
Following these steps is the creation of the step outline, although I often overlap Step 5 with the step sheet development, as they tend to feed off each other.
In a later post, I’ll describe these five steps in more than single sentences. For now though, I’m keeping my hand to the plow, burying myself in the step outline process.