Question: I somewhat recently attended Robert McKee's Story seminar where he very briefly mentioned treatments. The little that he stated about them was that they are documents of considerable size (though I've now learned that they can be as small as a single page), and that they summarize the actions, dialog and subtext of the scenes in the story. It seems to be something like an outline, but with a lot more meat on it.
It's the longer version of the treatment I'm intrigued by, since I still feel that I have more details and subtext to work out in my story before I actually write it. Unfortunately, I have found very little about how to write treatments, or any details as to what they look like or contain. I haven't been able to find a single sample either.
Do you know anything about treatments; where I might go to learn more, or where I might find some samples?Answer
A treatment is to a film what a synopsis is to a novel.
The difference between a treatment or synopsis and an outline is that an outline is usually something a writer writes only for himself/herself to see. Consequently, it is less formal and can include a lot of supplementary material (backstories, character descriptions, details on the story world, etc.)
A treatment is used to sell a screenplay to an agent or producer. A synopsis is used to sell a novel to an agent or publisher. (Though, honestly, most publishers and agents don't ask for synopses.) Consequently, it has to be a little more polished. A good synopsis must encapsulate the elements of the story that will really grab the reader.
You may find this article on synopsis writing helpful...