Man pitches his idea to two potential investors

So what exactly is a script treatment?

A treatment is a summary of a script. Its purpose is to explain the main points of the plot. It also gives a good description of the main characters involved in the story.

Treatments have no strict page limit, but generally shorter is usually better. Treatments are a tool of development for the writer, and they act as an extended pitch to a filmmaker or producer in the theatre.

Here are some of the key essentials to adhere to when it comes to creating a script treatment.

Keep your treatment short, concise and clear

There is nothing worse than a rambling document that can either cause boredom or outright confusion. Keep your pitch succinct and punchy to maximise its effect.

A brief description of the script (including genre) and running time

This can also include a very brief logline, this is 1-2 sentences that describe the actual plot. Some writers don’t bother with the logline but it does make your description stand out and makes it instantly memorable.

Include all character detail from age to gender

This part of your script treatment is so important because it actually provides the thrust of what you’ve got to say and gives life to the script you are trying to promote.

The scripts working title and the writers’ name

This is just so obvious but it’s amazing how many writers seem to forget to do this simple task.

Remember to provide all the necessary information to draw the reader in

You want the producer and artistic directors to be completely on board with your vision. You must be honest and realistic about your script.

Proof it!

Before you send your treatment out, read over it – TWICE! Or better still, get someone you trust to proof it. There is nothing worse than a document that is littered with spelling mistakes and bad punctuation.

Formal or informal?

Everyone has a different take on whether the treatment should have an informal or formal voice. Generally speaking, it should be somewhere in between, as balance is crucial. There isn’t anything wrong with formally presenting the treatment and as long as you stay in focus, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using some informal language, be it quirky or humorous.

Always remember you want your script treatment to stand out from all the others and you should, to a certain extent, let your personality and honesty shine through. The reader of your treatment will see this straight away and it will definitely be a big advantage.

You are ‘selling’ your script and it’s got to be good!

This is a one-shot, it’s not a working document like the script itself, this is the actual (short) manual guide to your piece of crafted theatre and it’s got to sing to the reader. As outlined before, this is essentially your pitch for your script – nobody knows your piece better than you do, so make it shine, make it the best and hopefully, the reader will get on board with your vision and eventually bring your script to life on the stage.

See plenty more articles related to the craft of playwrighting within our How To Write section.

Kiefer Williams
Kiefer Wes Williams is the artistic director for Grin Theatre Company, Merseyside’s first LGBTQ theatre company. Grin produces new works and develops new creative talent within the local community. Kiefer also leads playwrighting courses and writers workshops in conjunction with the Everyman Theatre and Writing on the Wall.