LB’s Quick, Down & Dirty Story Outlining Technique

A few weeks ago we ran an excerpt from an article on outlining that munchman found on the web. The post began with the following (written anonymously by our suddenly modest editor):

There’s an awful lot of “How To Write A Good Outline” info out there, not only on the web but also in books. The section on outlining in our very own LB’s Television Writing from the Inside Out comes to mind. But until we can get him to condense the info and put it on this site, here’s what we believe to be the next best thing….

It is a good article, but the muncher is right. A more thorough discussion of outlining specifically as it relates to television and film scripts has been long overdue here. So I’ve slaved night and day re-examining the whole “story-breaking” process and coming up with the latest of what I like to call (probably because I’m too lazy to think of a better title) our TVWriter™ Writers’ Bulletins.

Based on  (think “riffing off”) 40+ years of writing, writing, and more writing aided and abetted by material in my book (so buy it already!) Television Writing from the Inside Out, and supplemented just a bit by the “Ask the Television Expert” section I created for Final Draft Screenwriting software, plus various assorted augers and omens, Writing the Dreaded Outline is waiting for you here.

Hope it helps you as much as following its patterns has helped me over lo! these many years.

About LB

Larry Brody has been profiled in such national magazines and websites as Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Starlog, People, Electronic Media, IndieSlate, TechTV, io9, and of course TV Guide.

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world, with a career going back to the late ’60s, Brody has written and produced literally thousands of hours of network and syndicated television.

Brody has also been active in the TV animation world, writing, creating, consulting, and/or supervising the cult favorite STAR TREK animated TV series, the SILVER SURFER, SPAWN, SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN, and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED animated series, and was showrunner of the French animated series, DIABOLIK, as well as part of the team that developed and wrote the live-action/cgi animation sci-fi series Ace Lightning for the BBC.

Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including – yes, it’s true – Emmys.

6 thoughts on “LB’s Quick, Down & Dirty Story Outlining Technique

  1. kathyfuller says:

    Thank you for slaving. I’m still trying to conquer the outlining process–I write mostly by the seat of my pants. Which is not only frustrating but wastes a lot of time when you need to write quick.

    • LB says:

      You’re very welcome, Kathy.

      Of course, when you love what you’re doing it’s not really slavery…unless…oh hell…damn…

      LYMI,

      LB

  2. Peter says:

    My problem now is re-outlining based on vague/shitty notes. Sigh…

    • LB says:

      Most executives/producers give vague/shitty notes. I know I do. The key to appearing like a genius to these people is to ignore any specific “fix” they give you but accept the fact that something is bugging them, and then go over the section/word(s) they’re complaining about until you can figure out what’s too obscure or too obvious or too derivative or not derivative enough. Come up with your own change based on that and 99 times out of a hundred the notegivers will think you’re a genius.

      LYMI,

      LB

  3. haroldbune says:

    Most stories follow the hero’ journey (like shown at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html ) so use that as the basis of the outline.

    • LB says:

      I think that’s an exaggeration, but as someone who regards his own life as the most wonderful hero’s journey at all I’m sure not going to argue. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the mechanics of writing the rule is, “Whatever works for you.”

      Welcome to TVWriter™

      LYMI,

      LB

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