Laying Down the Framework

"I don't see how anybody starts a movie without knowing how it's going to end."

By now you've chosen the character, subject or issue you want to write about. But you probably aren't certain what to do next. Well, the next thing you are to do is nothing. That's right. Live with your idea for a while. Think about it 24 hours a day. Let it germinate. Mull it over, sleep with it, visualize it before you commit any words to paper. It is important for you to look at all aspects of your idea and explore all the different possibilities opened to you before you begin your blueprint.

If you give your story idea enough time to incubate, a story structure will eventually begin to appear. By thinking about your story it will begin to take a shape. But in order to have your vague idea become a well-structured story, you must do more than think about it. You now need to deal with the craft of structuring your story. This entails organizing your time, thoughts, and ideas. It requires discipline to develop the proper story structure you'll need so your writing won't collapse.

Now, you must lay down a framework as the foundation on which to build the entire structure of your screenplay. Earlier, I compared a writer constructing a blueprint for screenwriting to an architect constructing a blueprint for a home. For instance, let's say you hired an architect to build you a home. Well, she first must know the type of STRUCTURE you want and then she must draw up a set of plans. A blueprint. However, the architect can't do this until you give her pertinent information about the style you prefer. Do you want a California Ranch or an English Tudor? Maybe you want a two story Colonial complete with columns. Or do you prefer Spanish Modern?

Your architect needs to know what type of home before laying down the framework for the desired end result for your house. Whatever style you choose will determine the measurements and specifications of the framework from the blueprint which will shape your house. The framework is the skeleton of your home and without the framework your house would collapse.

The exact same process happens when you start to structure your screenplay. You must first create your blueprint and lay down the framework. You need to determine your characters, the plot, the conflicts, and most important of all—how your story opens and how it ends. That is considered the framework for your screenplay.

I guarantee you it's much easier to create a blueprint to follow as a guide or direction for your story, then it is to write a screenplay without one. Writers who resist developing an blueprint, often think it stops their creative flow or takes too much time and energy to prepare. Can you image an architect trying to build a house without first developing a blueprint? It would end in chaos.

The same is true for you writers. You'll eventually end up wasting your time and sapping all your creative energy. Not creating a blueprint is a pretty difficult way to write, because the writing often becomes disjointed and without focus. It's much easier to lay down your framework before you start your script.

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