Stephen King’s series, “The Dark Tower,” consists of eight books. Given the popularity of Stephen King’s novels and the appeal of “The Dark Tower” series by itself, it’s obvious why Hollywood wanted to make a movie out of the book series. However, Hollywood made the same mistake they keep making. They filmed the story and after reviewing it, reshot scenes at an additional cost of $6 million dollars.
Here;’s the simple way to tell if a story is working or not. Write it down as a treatment. A treatment summarizes the entire story in paragraph form with occasional quotes from various characters. The idea behind a treatment is to tell the entire story so nobody has to spend time reading (or writing) the actual screenplay. Once the treatment sounds appealing, then the screenwriters typically write the actual screenplay.
Yet what Hollywood does time and time again is start filming without having a full fleshed out story in place. Then they have to go back with expensive reshoots to try and fix the problem. It’s far cheaper and easier to fix the problem when the story only exists as text than it is to fix a story after it’s already been filmed.
Don’t make the mistake of Hollywood. Before you write a screenplay, write a treatment that summarizes your whole story. Make that treatment match your story’s genre so if you’re writing a comedy, make sure your treatment is funny. If you’re writing a horror film, make sure your treatment is shocking. Whatever you do, make sure your treatment is complete. Once you’ve done the hard work of fleshing out your treatment, then you can do the far easier work of writing the actual screenplay.
Hollywood too often makes movies backwards. That’s like flying to a city and once you get there, trying to figure out how to have a great vacation. It’s far easier to plan a vacation ahead of time rather than make it up as you go along. Likewise, it’s far easier to fix story problems before committing them to a screenplay or to film than it is to fix a problem after you’ve already shot the movie.
“The Dark Tower” looks like it will join other Hollywood failures like “Jonah Hex” in the dustbins of movie history, all because Hollywood didn’t create a well-structured story first before writing the screenplay and filming the movie.
Don’t make the same mistake that Hollywood makes all the time. Think first, plan ahead, and write last. If you fail to plan ahead, chances are good you’ll just wind up writing a sloppy, incoherent story that will take far longer to fix than if you had simply planned ahead in the first place.