Writing Plays/Screenwriting/treatment


QUESTION: Hello Mr.Pearson

I once ran across something about writing and selling a short treatment rather than screen play.  Can you write and sell a movie idea
If so, how do you organize and write one


ANSWER: Hi Demetrius.

Thanks for your question. I'm sure this is an issue that many other writers are curious about.

Unfortunately, the truth is that thousands of writers are striving to sell screenplays that are completed; therefore, the answer to your question is that only established screenplay writers with a terrific success history would be able to sell a short treatment. And often, even THEY have to struggle.

If you wish to gain more insight about writing and selling screenplays, I recommend that you follow Marvin Acuna's newsletters, which you can find on his blog page:


Marvin is in the business of helping writers get their scripts read (and, one hopes, produced). He charges for this service.

I am not connected with Marvin in any way. I recommend him because there is a lot of free cogent information about marketing screenplays.

Hope this helps.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Your reply leaves me to ask : if a writer writes fiction books, would he or she be better off writing just books and if one sold well then writing script or let others make into movie? This rather than trying to be screenwriter and novel writer simultaneously?
A great many hit  films are based upon bestsellers so shouldn't  hit book come first?


Hi Demetrius,
You've struck on an important issue, particularly in this age of digital publishing.

I strongly advise you to focus your energy on novel writing. Although the competition in that field is extremely competitive, it doesn't equal competition in the screenwriting jungle.

Also, screenwriting is an artisan skill, very unlike prose writing. It can take years and many scripts to learn the trade.

Competition in feature film writing is fierce. At any one time, there are about one million screenplays circulating in Hollywood. For writers with spec screenplays to peddle, the odds are 99 to 1 that they will be rejected.

And buyers do not prefer spec scripts.  They prefer stories that have a "proven" track record. A good existing stage play or novel, that has sold well, will certainly get some interest from movie makers.

In my own case, I broke into the film and television business because a Canadian broadcast network bought two scripts from me and produced them. That allowed me to launch my career as a producer and writer. If I had not worn two hats, I would not have been financially successful.

But that was then and this is now. The best route for you is to try to approach production companies to consider your books. You have a hugely bigger chance to beat the odds than writing a script yourself.

All the best,

Writing Plays/Screenwriting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Barry Pearson


I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. www.ironroadthemovie.com) I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!


I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL http://www.createyourscreenplay.com/aboutbp.htm

You can find my books on Amazon. See DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR STORY (http://tinyurl.com/StoryStealers)which is a stripped-down readable summary of copyright, full of entertaining anecdotes and real-life examples. Read about the true horror stories that clearly show you what you need to do to avoid the misfortune of having your literary material stolen. Find out: * How to take simple inexpensive steps to protect yourself, before, during, and after you write your literary work. * How copyright law applies to writers of literary works. * How literary works enter public domain, and how you can use it to your advantage. * What aspects of literary works are protected by copyright, and what aspects are not protected. * How to create documentation that will prove your copyright entitlement in the event of an infringement on your rights. * How you can protect yourself if you are contracted to write for television. You’ll also get a FREE sample of an Option and Purchase Agreement, a contract used in the acquisition of rights in a literary property—a contract that you and your lawyer can customize for your property. Written by a writer, for writers, Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Story will help you protect yourself against plagiarists and anyone else who might infringe your right of sole ownership. ------------- Also on Amazon, my book of four short stories, THE TWENTY-BUSHEL RACER. A man’s redemption from bitterness enables him to become a loving father. A teenager discovers the importance of his attachment to the people in his life and the place where he is growing up. A man, who has for years considered himself a coward and a betrayer of his comrades, musters the courage to stand up against a pair of would-be assassins. Two young men, who grew up in the same town, meet unexpectedly, reminisce about a girl they both loved when they were boys, and unveil a truth that changes both their lives.

Master of Arts degree (Drama)

Awards and Honors
Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]