Arts & Entertainment

Building Your Final Outline

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 15:19 min

Once your first outline is ready, your “scaffolding” is in place. Learn how to build on your previous work to create a final outline for a pilot that skillfully integrates storylines and conflict.

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Topics include: Final Outline Story Arc • Outlining Scenes Cut To Characters In Location • Assignment Flesh Out Your Final Outline


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So hopefully, now, you have a scaffolding outline that you're feeling pretty good about. That's great. That's a huge step toward writing this script. So the next step, really, is to take this scaffolding outline and you're gonna start to flesh it out. And you're gonna create what we call our final outline. So what this really does is you're gonna take those, say, two pages of a scaffolding outline and you're going to turn it into 10 to 15 pages. So you're gonna, basically, start by going in scene by scene. And you're gonna start adding in a lot of details. You're gonna add description. You're gonna go into more, the actual beats of the scene. You're even gonna write some basic dialogue, if you want to. So you're really just starting to make this thing come alive. How can I make this great and as exciting as possible? So again, one scene at a time. Hopefully, it ends up being around 10 to 15 pages. And this is what you're gonna take to script. - So what we'll do now is we'll look at the final outline we had for "Stranger Things." You'll notice how messy this is. Like, excuse the typos, but we-- we didn't wanna clean it up for you guys, because we wanted you to see exactly how it was when we did it. This is, again, just for you at this point. This is not for anybody else. So messy is OK. - If you want to clean it up, your version, that's also fine, if you-- especially if you're sharing it with someone else. This is something that, until now, we've never really shared with anyone but ourselves. So this was, again, just for us. And it's still the process we use to this day. We then, though, do clean it up, because we do have to share it with Netflix. But this is exactly our process, even today. So let's take this what-- let's go through this first scene, which is the D&D scene. And we'll show you, you know, in the scaffolding outline, it was, essentially, kids play D&D. And now, let's see what it's become. - And we use a lot of dashes, just-- - Lots of dashes-- - --just so we don't have to worry about punctuation while we're doing this. "Water sprinklers, hissing, arcing across a pristine lawn." And then, we widen to reveal we're now in suburbia. "We take a moment to survey our surroundings. Fall, leaves blowing, chill in the air, beautiful. One-story houses wind up the street. Identical, uniform, hatchback cars in driveways, power lines--" OK. We're getting a little over descriptive. Here, "Families watching TV through the windows. Our attention settles on a mundane two-story house tucked away at the end of the cul-de-sac, lights glowing within. The mailbox reads 'The Wheelers.' Overlay voiceover of a boy talking about darkness, danger, and the imminent death which awaits them." - "We now cut into this boy's room." We got "a group of 12-year-old boys play 'Dungeons and Dragons' cross-legged on the carpeted floor, Star Wars posters on walls, miniatures on the ground on a gridded map. We mee...

About the Instructor

Before they turned our world upside down with "Stranger Things," Matt and Ross Duffer honed their scare tactics on Wayward Pines and their debut thriller, Hidden. Now, the acclaimed showrunners reveal the dark science of creating a monster hit. Craft gripping story arcs, conjure unforgettable characters—like Eleven or Jim Hopper—and turn your raw idea into a pitch for the next big thing to cross over from the other side.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

The Duffer Brothers

Matt and Ross Duffer—the "Stranger Things" masterminds—teach you how they plotted the series from beginning to end, and how you can bring your own idea to life.

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