Masters tales

Screenwriting 7

Step outlines… This was new to me. I’d never heard of it. So I sat expectantly wondering what I was going to find and really hoping it would only be a list of scenes.

And actually it is just a list of scenes… and… a brief description.

Had to be really. A list of scenes would have been too easy.

So, anyway, a set outline is a list of sentences, one sentence per scene, that describes what is happening. I suppose it’s like a storyboard only written. You don’t include dialogue, set dressing, or minor characters that are unrelated to the plot. So in one of my scenes, well, this happens:

Mary, Robin and Ben stand watching each other and the doorbell rings.

Oh! The suspense… Okay maybe it’s a boring scene but that is all I’d write.

Why? Was the main question. But as I sat down to work on the scenes I soon realised that it was so you could easily move around scenes. My scene that I needed to scrap? Well I didn’t. I just moved it to a more relevant position. Once you have your step outline you know exactly what you are doing and where you are going. My only annoyance is that I didn’t create it first. Still, by doing it now I feel that the story is becoming more rounded and interesting.

So the scene would become:

Scene 15. Mary, Robin and Ben all stand in the kitchen and the doorbell rings.

Next time I tackle a screenplay though I may write the step outline first.


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