Open forum question from Lalithra Fernando:
What do you think a good treatment looks like?
I posted something about the distinction between a treatment and an outline here, so that might be worth checking that out.
If your question is about what makes an effective treatment, that’s simple: Tell a whopping good story in 5, 10, 20, 30 or however many pages it takes.
If it’s literally about how a treatment should look, as in its appearance, I’m not sure how far you want to drill down on the subject. But I’d frame the discussion by saying that there is no definitive style-guide that I know of re treatments. Here are some different takes on the subject:
* If you go here, they suggest three possible approaches: Headers, Prose-Style, Combination. The latter is intriguing as they suggest dividing up the treatment into five “sub-categories”: concept, characterization, theme, tone, and story. As the article states, “This method is a popular choice for some as it allows you to add into your treatment what is unique about your approach, what people will find interesting, as well as telling the story.”
* If you go here, you can see how ITVS (Independent Television Service) advises producers to handle treatments to present to them for possible PBS programming. The format is TV, but the guidelines, I think, are relevant to a film treatment.
* This article gets more to the heart of where I think treatments can be of value: In the prep-writing phase of writing a screenplay. As the article’s author states, “When you are preparing to write a screenplay or even preparing to do a major rewrite, it is very helpful to create a blueprint or treatment of what you are going to write prior to actually writing or rewriting it. This is what a treatment is used for. It will help you layout the direction of the entire screenplay and work out some of the kinks before jumping into the whole thing.”
Finally there’s this: TV writer and novelist Lee Goldberg’s take on writing treatments. He ends his post with these sage words:
Don’t fixate on treatment format, because there isn’t one. Tell your story in the style that works best for you. Don’t worry about whether the character names are in capitals or not (it doesn’t matter). Concentrate on telling a strong story.
Lee has a great blog which I heartily recommend.
GITS readers, what say ye? How do you approach writing treatments?