How to pitch your script
Earlier this month John Phillips, Assistant Script Editor at Kudos Film and Television, held some sterling script doctor sessions here at the IdeasTap Spa. For those of you who weren't lucky enough to make it, here are his tips on what means what when it comes to pitching your film or television script...
A logline is usually around 25 words – one or two sentences maximum. It should epitomise what your story is about without giving away any specific plot details. Generally speaking this is where you introduce your protagonist and summarise what their story is about. It is the very basic outline of your story concept. The aim is to intrigue the reader – keep it punchy and in keeping with the tone of your genre.
This is a one-page document that outlines the plot, key characters, setting and tone of your story. It should be written in the vein of your genre – if you’re pitching a comedy series then your synopsis should make people laugh! It is also important for a writer to bear in mind their target audience.
A pitch should enthral the reader and leave them wanting to know more. Whilst you should reveal the key plot points, there is no need to be over specific – you don’t have to reveal every story strand in this document, but it should be clear what the A story strand and, more often than not, B story strands are. Your reader should be left knowing exactly who your main characters are and what obstacles they face, but there is no need to conclude their journey in this document.
This is a more extensive version of your pitch (generally between three to five pages). Structurally, outlines tend to follow the same linear (or non-linear) structure as your story. Your outline should explore the majority of your story strands in their most basic form, the setting of your story and all your significant characters. Outlines are particularly useful for ironing out any plot issues. Though characterisation is important in your outline, you don’t tend to write any dialogue here.
Treatments can vary quite significantly in terms of length and information. Generally treatments are quite extensive and writers are usually asked to produce them as a final document before going to script. A treatment usually covers all story strands interwoven in your plot, highlighting the characters and their arcs as well as exploring the world and any other significant story elements. Treatments can also include things like character biogs or specific episode synopses where applicable.
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Image: NaNoWriMo 2009: The Planning by mpclemens under a CC BY 2.0 licence.
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