Often the first written form a movie or television screen story takes is not a script but a log line, screenplay treatment
or outline. These deceptively brief collections of words, which can be among the greatest writing challenges a screenwriter
will ever tackle, can determine if an idea lives or dies. Learning how to make these often-misunderstood sales and development
tools work for you will help you sharpen your ideas, shortcut the development process, recruit allies and sell your stories.
Examples of professionally written loglines, treatments and outlines are hard to find. Here are samples of each available
for you to download.
A log line is a dynamic one or two-sentence statement of an idea for a movie or television show. Producer Lynda Obst, in
her insightful and entertaining book Hello He Lied, uses the wonderful term, "the miniaturization of the idea." That’s
what a log line is. Its job is to give a rapid sense of the story and make us want more. Writing the log line forces the writer
to think clearly and succinctly about the idea. The exercise of writing one can provide important focus for the screenwriter.
Click here to see a collection of sample loglines.
A film or television treatment is basically a written pitch, usually one to five pages long. It’s a sales tool. Because
writers can’t make movies and television shows all by themselves, they need to communicate to lots and lots of people
what their great idea is and attract some of those people to help them. A dynamite script, of course, is a great way to do
that. A screenplay treatment is another way. It’s also a useful way for a writer to test an idea before writing a screenplay,
to focus the idea, and to communicate to an agent, producer or potential buyer what the idea is all about. Like a log line,
it should leave the reader wanting more.
BLY is a screenplay treatment based on the life of pioneering journalist Nellie Bly,
written to help a producer attract talent, and hopefully development money, to the project.
To download the treatment for BLY in Adobe Acrobat format click here.
A WHITE MALE OF SLIGHT TO MEDIUM BUILD is a treatment for a made-for-television movie
about the badly flawed hunt for the Louisiana serial killer.
To download the treatment for A WHITE MALE OF SLIGHT TO MEDIUM BUILD in Adobe Acrobat format click here.
An outline is a working document rather than a sales tool. It is longer and more complete than a treatment and serves as
a blueprint for the script that will subsequently be written. Before a script is written, an outline can serve as a communication
tool between the writer and others involved in the process of developing the script: producers, director, executives.
ACTUAL INNOCENCE is an outline for a made-for-television movie script written for
the Fox Television Network and Mandalay Television Films. It is based on the nonfiction book by attorneys Barry Scheck and
Peter Neufeld and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jim Dwyer.
To download the outline for ACTUAL INNOCENCE in Adobe Acrobat format click here.
To download the complete teleplay for ACTUAL INNOCENCE in Adobe Acrobat format click here.
Get help writing a script that grabs Hollywood's attention -- from writers who've done it.
"The Rileys constantly made me dig deeper into the characters and go for the emotional truth. Thanks
to their input, I now have a fellowship at Disney and a script that gets managers and agents to call me."
Winner, 2004 Disney Screenwriting Fellowship
To find out how Christopher and Kathleen Riley, the writers behind the resources featured on this page, can
help you, click here