A few different ways to OUTLINE your screenplay.

Awesome Articles

We’ve done the long, hard research work for you; sifted through reams of internet copy; watched scores of video hours. This is a handpicked selection of resources to get you started learning how to outline your screenplay, whether with index cards or a beat sheet.  *These resources are from our esteemed colleagues’ websites. They open in a new window. Enjoy!

Inside Aaron Sorkin’s Writing Process

This terrific piece in the Hollywood Reporter highlights Aaron Sorkin’s love affair with index cards to structure and plan his scripts. Read Inside Aaron Sorkin’s Writing Process to learn how the master outlines his screenplays.

Outlines, Treatments, and Scriptments, Oh My!

In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re huge fans of Ken Miyamoto. In this Screencraft article Outlines, Treatments, and Scriptments, Oh My! he goes through John August’s outlining process step-by-step to help you understand how to plan and outline your screenplay.

How to Write a Script Outline in 6 Steps

This Masterclass article is worth your time to get a quick overview of the script planning process: What Is a Script Outline? 5 Elements of a Screenplay Outline. Make sure you scroll down to read the section How to Write a Script Outline in 6 Steps for a great overview explaining how screenwriters plan and outline their projects.

Why Planning Beats Seat-Of-Your-Pants Every Time

The prolific and deeply knowledgeable Lucy V. Hay writes one of our all time favorite screenwriting blogs. In a recent newsletter she wrote: “Do you hate outlines? Me too…when there isn’t one!” Be inspired by Lucy’s Bang2Write blog piece: On Writing: Why Planning Beats Seat-Of-Your-Pants Every Time to help you finish writing your script.

The 6 Key Steps to Writing the BEST Script Outline Possible

Of course there are many ways to skin a cat, or to save one (smile). We really enjoyed this practical and inspirational article written by Jahnvi Saluja for Industrial Scripts about how to best outline your screenplay: The 6 Key Steps to Writing the Best Script Outline Possible

John August on using Index Cards

In this short, sweet, and succinct article, the venerable screenwriter John August (Big Fish) discusses using index cards to plan and outline your screenplay in response to the question: “Do you use the ‘index card’ method when preparing to write a script and if so do you find that your screenplay fleshes out in the same order as you wrote it in the index cards?” Open the article to see his response.

Vital Videos to help you use index cards to outline your screenplay

Eleven great screenwriters tip their hands in this eye-opening 12-minute video from Behind the Curtain (Nehemiah Jordan): How Professional Screenwriters Outline. It’s fascinating how different writers approach the same task of planning and structuring their screenplay beats. Featured writers are: Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master), Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), the Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men), Rian Johnson (Knives Out), Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird), Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Split).

Academy Originals gives us Creative Spark where screenwriter Dustin Lance Black describes his captivating and thorough outlining process using index cards, both on the wall and on the table, and even in stacks (7 minutes).

This excellent educational video (36 minutes) by the magnificent producers at Film Courage features many working screenwriters on their screenplay outlining process and how they use index cards to keep them focused and their story line clear. Click the link to watch Outlining A Screenplay – Architects and Gardeners.

Jill Chamberlain, author of The Nutshell Technique, discusses screenplay outlining, planning, and structure using a beat sheet in this five-minute Film Courage interview clip: Do Screenwriting Beat Sheets Work?