A good way to properly convey your thoughts onto paper



I love to direct (who doesn't) but I can direct a shot film without a story. So I'm always trying to write a short story. Nothing too big, maybe 5-10 page scripts.

Here's my problem.

I write a title, sleep on it, write a theme, sleep on it, write a logline, sleep on it, write a treatment, sleep on it, write an outline, sleep on it and then finally, I write the script.

It doesn't sound like a bad way to creat your story right? I got that format from www.IndieSlate.com magazine...So I seemed pretty well organized to me.

However, I can't get my story (which is good, but not great) out of my head and onto the paper.

Are there any techniques the professionals use from time to time that help them get the "flow" going? I write well and I consider myself to be creative, but I can't get that creativity onto the paper with enough supporting details to make it work.

I use screenwriting software, so my format is appropriate, but I still never finish, let alone produce a story of mine. The work I do in school is different. I do produce my stories that I tell, but most of them are without dialogue.

Its just frustrating that I can't get a 5page script off the ground or if I can, I can't materialize it to be good enough to produce. I know I can do this, but I think I'm missing a key step that will show me the way...

Any professionals care to chime away?


New member
The key to the script is the story. You chould get one of those minicasette recorders and carry it around with you. You can stand in your living room and shoot out ideas from your mouth, or if you get an idea in the car, it's right there for you. If you don't have one of those, carry a notepad and pen with you. Or, if you are somewhere where you really don't want to be hauling junk around, you can do what I did today (I was at a movie, coincidentally). If you have a cell phone, do an "Add Contact" in your phone book and, for the name, input a few key words that will jog your memory. Get all your ideas out, regardless of whether they are in the order of a story or not. Again, for instance, I'm working on a treatment right now. I am not really thinking about where the story goes yet, just getting ideas - scenes, dialogue, characters - down onto the paper. I've written two scenes out of it that are not in any order. The key is to get ALL of your ideas down, then organize them. Once you do that, just start transcribing the action, and creating dialogue, and you have a script.


Thanks for your advice. I've thought about the minicassette recorder idea before, but wasn't sure if it was for me.

I'll give it try...


Senior Member
Staff member
i use a little digital voice recorder. it's smaller and lighter than my cellphone, very easy to carry around and use.


Another good approach is to just sit down and do a stream of though exercise... just write & keep writing everything that your hand wants too uninhibited until you can't write anymore... you'll find a lot that you wanted, a lot you didn't and even some things you didn't think of/expect... and you may even find your story eeking out through it.

Best of luck!


That also sounds like a good idea. I've went out and purchased one of thsoe microcassette recorders and thus far, its worked pretty well when I'm in a creative mood.


Something that works for me...

Something that works for me...

I used to begin my writing "process" - if you can call it that - by using the method you described. Sometimes I would get a rush of inspiration and "visuallize" an entire scene in my head and then spend a few hours frustrating myself trying to come up with rich/interesting dialogue...and of course, I never did...

The Parable of the Engineer...
You walk into a shop and see an engineer being busy at his desk. You walk up to him and see that he's creating a device made of springs and wheels and so forth; and then you ask him what it is. He looks at you and squints his eyes and says..."I don't know."

This is a problem many writers encounter; they've spent 10 hours or more writing up countless pages and when you ask them what it's about, they reply..."I don't know!"

You will probably never meet an engineer who would say this! You can't begin building a good story until you know what it is you're trying to build.

KNOW what your story is about, first and foremost! Write down one or two sentences describing the premise, purose, or intent of your story. What is the message you are trying to send?

An example would be: "ruthless ambition leads to its own distruction" (Macbeth) or "great love defies even death" (Romeo and Jullliet).

Once you've decided what the overall message or purpose is for your story, you then begin to write your character biographies. I know you probably think this is a waste of time, but if you invest a few paragraphs on each character describing their physique, psychology, and sociological characteristics you'll find dialogue writing will come much easier!

When you know your character, you have a set of ground rules about this character. For instance, is your character morally upright? This tells you that whenever the character is put in a situation that challenges this characteristic he will be predictable.

Perfect (and clich?!) example is Superman...you KNOW he is incapable of allowing any innocent - or guilty - person die by his own hands!

When you understand the psychology of your character(s), you understand what choices they will make in a given situation.

Your premise will decide the fate of your characters and what will happen at the end of the story. At this point, it's advisable to draw up a little diagram where you decide how the events in your story will develop - Syd Field suggests his little 3-Act setup.

I honestly don't have any good advice concerning dialogue except that it should always be true to that character (even if that character changes in the story) and there should always be a reason for everything that is said (and NOT said).

Approach every scene in your story individually; each scene MUST have a beginning, middle, and end. There is no reason for you to write a scene that does not drive the story towards the premise - the reason you're writing. Don't believe me? Watch ANY great film (subjective, I know) and decide whether or not it consisted of a series of scenes that weren't driving towards the main message for the story.

Don't be afraid to write predictable scenes. If you ever watch "Three's Company", you know that everything is given away in the first five minutes. That is, you know exactly where the show is going (for the most part) and all you can do is watch the characters play out the drama - and yet it's interesting! Why? Because we don't give a crap about what we don't know (susense/mystery/thrillers be the exception); we want to see HOW it unfolds.

Hope this helps! My apologies for being long-winded.

~Christopher Engelking
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Before i do anything, by myself or a collaboration with other people, i sit down and hammer out the entire storyline (which can always be revised later) and make an outline. My outline i came up with isnt the:


type outline but more like main point to main point. It sorta looks like this:

[main point]-->(minor point within main point)--->(minor point)
{minor point)<--(minor point within main point)<---[main point]

Of course its much easier to make boxes in a word processor that is a little easier to follow visually than that above but i find that it helps me see right in front of me main points and how they progress and lead into things. I like to look at it like storyboarding with words.