Finished the Step Outline for Act I

August 22, 2009

The step outline for the first act of the screenplay is done. And, I gotta tell ya, it feels good!

It’s at about this point in the screenplay’s development that…

One of two situations will emerge:

Either previously hidden story problems begin to reveal themselves, sending the writer back to the screenplay summary to make repairs, or the story begins to flow out easily, with all those little bits and pieces of the deconstruction and analysis phase finding their respective homes within each step of the developing narrative, weaving harmoniously and showing the story’s potential.

Happily, it’s the latter that’s taken place over the last couple of days, as I’ve watched the narrative flow taking shape. What’s particularly nice about this is that it makes the screenplay process all the more enjoyable, which can sometimes get laborious or frustrating if the story isn’t coming together smoothly.

But it is. And so the pace of the story development seems to accelerate a bit more every day, spurring me on.

Before I can get too exuberant however…

I need to press on, completing the step outline for the second and third act. Only then can I be confident that the story will be sufficiently compelling and structurally sound.

So, while it’s tempting to dive right into writing the screenplay, I will hold back for now and finish stepping out the acts.

First thing tomorrow, I will:

  • Print out the step outline onto large index cards
  • Begin rearranging the story thread index cards on the corkboard, aligning each story element to one of the step outline cards, looking for oversights and opportunities to better complete the Act 1 steps
  • Make any necessary tweaks to the first act’s step outline

Then, if the day is not yet done, I will launch right into the step outline for the second act.

Good times.

Trust me.  🙂

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The Five Steps of Story Deconstruction

August 19, 2009

In short, the screenply story deconstruction process I employ looks like this:

  1. Analyze the story summary to define at a granular level key story elements or “beats.”
  2. Group these elements topically into individual story threads.
  3. Represent the elements and threads visually and physically on printed index cards.
  4. Arrange the story threads on a large bulletin board from left to right according to where they fit on the story timeline.
  5. 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.


Steppin’ out

August 19, 2009

Focused today on creating the step outline. More than half-way through the first act of it. Step sheet explanation forthcoming. But first … sleep. 🙂


Heavy story research day

August 18, 2009

Most progress today was behind the scenes, so to speak: doing research. Primary resources:

  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. It outlines the role of capitalism and free market economies in fostering a viable arena for economic and political freedom.
  • Think Again by Dr. Morgan Job. It’s his treatice on the culture, race superstitions, and political economy of Trinidad & Tobago. A good resource, but I don’t think it’s available outside of the Caribbean. Dr. Job’s Web site is also a good resource.
  • The online archives of the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian newspaper – A valuable resource on policing and politics in the country.

Looking forward to resuming development of the screenplay’s stepsheet tomorrow…