Why having a visual deck is essential for a writer?
Pro Tip: Start with a logline
Writing a screenplay is like conceiving a whole film on paper, it’s not an easy task. One needs to have a lot of clarity and command over the story in order to achieve the desired result. Most of the writers follow a set screenplay format while drafting their story but sometimes following the conventional method could actually make your content boring and your screenplay ideas redundant. The best practice is to first have a visual compilation. Use images to develop your ideas. In modern times, this practice is being adopted by a lot of writers because of many reasons. First let’s see why is compiling a visual deck so important?
It stimulates the creative juices
By making a visual deck it becomes easier for the writer to understand the screenplay treatment. It enables him to broaden his horizon and stimulates the creative juices. It does happen that by reviewing a visual deck, expression of thought becomes easier. There are many instances while writing when one does not know how to correctly express himself, visual decks can prove to be very helpful in this regard.
It makes producers happy and saves time
Producers and screenplay agents review hundreds of scripts in a week, they do not have the time and energy to read every word or go through every character. If one has a visual deck prepared already then it is easier for them to grasp the concept, understand the story and see the characters in more depth. A lot of screenwriting schools and screenwriting workshops visual compilation is a necessary module because it is useful for both the writer and the one to whom you are pitching your idea to. After all skimming through a presentation is much easier in comparison to reading a 100 page long script.
It adds depth to your story
When there is an amalgamation of images in front of you, it helps you to think deep, go beyond the surface and explore the depths of each character. For example if for one character you use pictures of water, forests and birds then it reveals a lot of layers present in that character, the calmness he possess, the silences in him, the disturbances, his fluid nature, his love for Earth. Through two to three pictures, various character traits have been discovered which might not have been possible to explore, had you been writing the character like a machine on your laptop. Devising a visual deck helps you conceive ideas calmly which further strengthen your writing.
The next important step is to understand some of the essential elements of a visual deck. Now these are absolutely necessary and try to include most of these when you are developing your own deck
The cover page should include your name, your story’s title and contact information but most importantly it should have the title image. The title image is very important because it gives a hint towards what the story entails. It can either make or break the deal; there have been instances when producers have been so fascinated by the image and title of the screenplay that they get almost sold to buy the script. Thus choose the image carefully, it should subtly hint what the story is about to offer and what is it about!
The plot summary actually has to be a summary and not a story in itself. Writers commit the mistake of writing extensively long plot summaries which often put off agents and studios. Plot summaries should essentially not be longer than 500 words; they should give a brief idea about the story and should be crisp enough to grab the attention of the reader. If your plot summary is lengthy and highly descriptive then chances are that you might lose the reader early on.
If you are pitching a TV series, it could be slightly long as the writer may also include summary of the pilot. Some production houses may demand pilots separately as well because they are very crucial in the world of Television.
A logline is like a hook line, it should remain imprinted in the producer’s mind. It should summarize your story and the core elements or characters. There should be an intrigue factor in the logline so that the reader is compelled to take a deep dive into your story. But don’t commit too much in the logline, often people develop really interesting loglines but then fail to work on the story which ultimately is a huge disappointment.
Tone and Style
The tone and style of your story should match the tone and style of your visual deck. For example if you writing a dark complex story then your visual board should depict the same mood, it should have darker tones, deeper pictures, it can’t have a lot of colour and happy pictures because they are not related to the main story line. The tone should be very similar so producers are not shocked when they read the actual script.
This point should be considered before one starts writing, it needs to be defined who is the writer writing for? Is the story for adults, for teenagers, for women or for someone else? Identifying your target audience will you to write comprehensively. An important tip is to also keep the directors one wants to work with and try to at least make your story board according to them. This might help you to rope in the director easily. It isn’t a definite rule but one can try a few experiments to land his first big project!
By following the above mentioned tips the writing process will hopefully become easier and creatively enriching, that being said, one should also believe in himself and write in a manner which suits him. If making a visual board helps you then definitely try it out but if not then there is no harm in sticking to your conventional method. At the end of the day it’s the story that matters!