Big bloody hole

So I sat down today to write this treatment. It’s a horror film, it’s got a good premise, I know who the characters are and I’m ready to go.

Step one: white index cards to mark out the opening image, inciting incident, first act break, midpoint, second act break and closing image.


Step two: put the murders down on red cards. There are six murders throughout the film, so I mark them all down, in order and roughly how and why they happen.


Step three: blue index cards for scenes I want to include. These are scenes which illustrate the theme, are essential clues to solving the mystery, reveal character or are generally just cool and I want them in there. Basically, these are the scenes I know have to happen.

It’s all shaping up nicely. Step away from the board and what have I got … ?

A big bloody hole where the second half of act two should be.

Fuck socks.

This isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to the film. I don’t plot out every scene on cards before writing the treatment, just the main points to get the spine and shape of the thing. I like to nail down the structure and fill in a few bits of interest to remind me why I wanted to write this thing and the rest I work out organically as I’m writing the treatment. I find this mixture of preparation and on the job creation works best for me. Afterwards I go back to the board and fill in a card for every scene.

The preliminary carding helps me see, with visual aides, where the gaps are. There’s always a bit I haven’t really thought out properly, usually a bit covered by a ‘hi jinks’ ensue type phrase. In this case the gap is a whole quarter of the film. There is nothing going on except one murder and surely that can’t be right? Surely the murders should be getting more frequent towards the end, not less?

The midpoint is when the characters realise there’s a crazed murderer stalking them and all hell breaks loose. The end of the second act is when the characters decide to fight back. Damn it, they’re just not taking this shit anymore.

So what the hell are they doing in the meantime? According to the one pager they’re involved in a deadly cat and mouse game throughout the house and grounds. But now I come to look at it, what the fuck does that mean? If they’re in the grounds, why don’t they just fuck off home? ‘Too far to walk’ is not much of a reason when there’s a knife happy lunatic on your trail.

“Quick, run away!”

“Fuck off! I’m wearing heels and it’s two miles to the nearest village.”

“Is it! Lordy, we’d best go back inside with the homicidal maniac and make a cup of tea.”

Doesn’t ring true, does it?

That’s actual dialogue from the script, by the way.

So I’ve been staring at this story abyss all day and several things have become clear:

  1. If you stare at things for too long, your eyes stop working. This has something to do with the blind spot in your eye where the optic nerve is. The reason you don’t normally notice a big fucking hole in your vision is because your eyes move about a lot and your brain cleverly fills in the gaps.
  2. I should stop googling stuff about blind spots and get on with the treatment.
  3. A character has completely disappeared. She turns up for the finale but seems to have done nothing in-between whilst everyone else is running around screaming about a murderer. Perhaps she was cleaning the oven?
  4. The characters should just get together in one room and wait for the baddie to come to them. Then they should fuck him up.
  5. Maybe the baddie should have a gun to prevent all the characters waiting in one place and ganging up on him?
  6. I need all of the characters to spontaneously lose their mobiles and their ability to open external doors or smash windows.
  7. I need to rethink this. A lot.
Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Two steps back | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Big bloody hole

  1. And this one’s not the PITA treatment but an entirely separate second treatment, right? The one that’s going to slip peacefully from your brain onto the page?

  2. Yep, this is a new project, one which is refusing to co-operate. It’s funny how you can fool yourself into thinking everything’s all in place – that’s why I find index cards invaluable. They help me realise how deluded I am.

  3. Darren

    Oh man… I would have stuck with the delusion. But then I’m a coward.

  4. Darren

    Forgot to ask… when you say ‘treatment’ (and excuse the idiot question, I’m very new at this), just how much is normally required? Or is that a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question?

  5. Attack dogs eat the mobile phones and try to kill anyone who leaves the building. 🙂 Problem solved. Kinda.

  6. Whatcha mean it’s not that kind of film? Grrrrr!

  7. Darren: my treatments tend to be ten pages with one page equalling ten pages of script, although the last one turned out to be twenty pages. I think some people go as far as 50 pages, but personally I think if you’re going that far you’re better off just writing the script. If you’re writing them for yourself, do whatever you like; if you’re writing them for a producer then you can ask them what they prefer.

    Eleanor: can the dogs have steel tipped teeth and laser beams in their mouths?

  8. Darren

    Thanks Phill.

    And ah, yes… augmented sentry dogs. I like! Mind you, then it’s more sci-fi than horror.

    Nah, you’re buggered… 🙂

  9. crustynomad

    Add a car chase and another death with the driver or victim being that missing character. May make their lines redundant in the finale however.

  10. Car chase? On this budget?

  11. No Phill, not unless they are fricking sharks! Sheesh!

  12. Actually, you know what, any kind of killer animal should be allowed to carry a laser beam!

    Sorry about that. I think my brain hasn’t quite recovered from the plague yet. 😉

  13. Sarah Morgan

    Solving the mobile problem

    1) It’s all set in the past, pre-mobile phones. (note – also gives you chance for whimsical Peter Kay style nostalgia eg Flock of Seagull haircuts, Panda Pop, repeal of the corn laws etc)
    2) The cast are all dogs (no opposable thumbs to phone/text. They might manage a game of Snake if they’re well-trained.)
    3) Murderer is evil genius with home-made mobile blocking device
    4) House is in Wales
    5) Murderer hides all the chargers

    RE: not much happening in Act 2… two words: SEX SCENE. “Oh professor, my emotions are so heightened knowing there’s a murderer on the loose, I’m all of a dither. Oh look, my bra has fallen off. DO ME.”

    Solve disappearing/reappearing character by having her tied up/manacled just INCHES from the rest of the gang, who presume she’s dead. She’s not dead, she’s in the loft insulation/under the floorboards! Irony! A mouse chews through her bonds and she escapes to save the day/get murdered properly.

    Can you tell I’m also utterly blocked on a thing I’m supposed to be writing?

  14. Eleanor: “Any kind of killer animal should be alowed to carry a laser beam” – you should put that in your election manifesto. I’d vote for you.

    Sarah: I’m liking the cast of dogs idea, I’m sure that hasn’t been done before. A canine slasher movie – I think you may have hit on a new genre. Although if I make them all dogs it makes the act two sex scene slightly less titilating. I also have to think of a reason why a dog is wearing a bra.

    Apart from having massive tits.

  15. The cast aren’t dog-slashers, but you’ve seen Meet The Feebles, yes? 😉

  16. No I haven’t. Do you think it would help?

  17. Pingback: Bridging the gap « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

  18. Couldn’t hurt now, could it?

  19. I don’t know, it might do.

    It might have a hidden message in the middle which bypasses your conscious and embeds instructions in your unconscious awaiting the signal to spring into action. Six months from now I could hear the doorbell ring and go into a sudden killing frenzy which results in the deaths of everyone within a five mile radius before I impale myself on a frozen breadstick … and all because I watched a film without taking the proper precautions.

  20. Pingback: I need a system « Foolish Notions

  21. Pingback: Why can’t it always be like this? « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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