ScreenplaysWriting a screenplay can be a difficult process in and of itself. Once it is written, you want to see it made into a movie so that story can be told on the big screen, in front of millions of people. Sometimes, only the idea itself is present and it needs to be converted into a full screenplay. Either way, the time will come when it needs to be pitched to a studio.

Studios rarely, if ever, have the time to read through a screenplay in its entirety before deciding if it’s good enough to receive the financial backing necessary to bring it to the screen; studios are flooded with a multitude of screenplays every day. This is similar to a job opening, in which a company receives numerous applications and resumes from interested parties. The selected candidate will not only possess the necessary skills for the job, but they must pitch themselves to the interviewer.

The most qualified candidate is not necessarily the one who will get the job; rather, the candidate with the best sales pitch will more than likely end up with the job. The same goes for screenplays: you might have the best screenplay that a studio has seen in years, but unless it’s pitched properly it will most likely end up in the rejection bin, never to be seen again. It is for this reason that writing a treatment is necessary.

What is a Writing Treatment?

A writing treatment is basically the pitch for the screenplay, or the idea for the story that you want to have made into a screenplay, and ultimately into a movie. A writing treatment is designed to sell the screenplay, to get the studio interested enough in it that they want read it in its entirety and purchase it. A treatment can be anywhere from one to fifty pages; however, it should be noted that a shorter treatment is best, whenever possible. A treatment captures the essence of the screenplay that you’re trying to sell.

A treatment should be structured in such a way as to be direct and interesting. It should provide a brief description of the story while highlighting key details of the screenplay. Unlike an actual screenplay, a treatment uses a paragraph structure, so keep this in mind as well. When writing a treatment for the screenplay, it’s critical to include the most important parts of the story, such as the beginning and the ending. Overall, the treatment should bring the main story into focus.  The fine details are all placed within the screenplay itself.

At least one main character should be described in the treatment. A good rule of thumb is to place the most interesting or vivid character into the treatment, even if it is not the main character. It’s also important to cover the main issue of the story in the treatment, and to make sure that the treatment is written in an enticing fashion. Doing so will go a long way towards selling the screenplay and having it made into a movie.  Just remember to keep it clear, simple, short, and interesting; before you know it, you’ll be getting a call from the studio that wants to buy your screenplay, or have a screenplay written based on your story idea. The well-written treatment may ultimately determine the fate of your screenplay.