They teach you in film school that outlining your films is an important step in the screenwriting process. Oftentimes, students ignore this lesson and just wing it, letting the characters do what they “were meant to do.” This was the method I applied to writing my very first feature for Screenwriting II. I wasn’t going to let planning and plot construction ruin MY masterpiece. My characters were going to take me on a journey and it would be this grand adventure through amazing-land.
Well, I was an idiot.
You have no idea how easy it is to sit down and start writing your story when you have the basic groundwork set out in front of you. Protagonist goes here, here and here in act one. Fill in the blanks. BAM! I’ve always known that outlining is a good idea, but I’ve never really put it into practice until lately. I can already see the results as the story is more organized now in my head and I’ve got a firmer grasp on the plot than I did a few short days ago.
Also, I’ve got an end to my story. None of my scripts prior to this have had endings and it’s made finishing them something of a challenge. It’s unbelievably difficult to plot out a journey you don’t know the end to. The possibilities become TOO endless and the “what-ifs” start wasting valuable time, time you could be spending on the actual script itself.
Maybe some people out there in this cruel world can sit down and write a feature without ever outlining a single thing, but I know I’m not one of those people. Having as much planned out as possible before I sit down to write is an absolute must.