Yes, we're back to talking about writing. And double YES - writing a treatment is a major deal!
A treatment is a detailed outline of the story from start to finish, written in prose style. It should present the tone of the story, and should always be written in the present tense with very little dialogue. If a screenplay is the blueprint of a film, the treatment is the blueprint of the script.
Unlike the one liner and paragraph, here in the treatment we begin to envision the overview of our story and develop it fully. We use very little or no dialogue in the treatment, which forces us to show, not tell. Keep in mind, we don’t want to explain things, we want to show. We do this by keeping the text simple and visual, and by avoiding exposition and camera directions.
Why don’t we just start with the script? Well, many reasons. Scripts are highly formatted, so writing our story out completely in a treatment allows us to use a prose style much like that of a short story. This process can be a bit more creative and freer, as we’re not bound by the conventions of the formatted screenplay.
Another reason is that the treatment is very useful in developing our story. Again, it’s part of the process in creating a great script. On average, scripts are 90-110 pages, and a treatment is usually more like 35-50 pages, so this is a more useful form to develop our story in, mainly because it is half the size. It’s more a manageable form for developing the story.
So, after you've written and developed your ONE LINER, then the PARAGRAPH, next step before you begin your script is the treatment. You write several drafts of this and get tons of feedback, you will have a much easier time when you begin the first draft of your script.
Here is the 1st page of one of my favorite treatments - Terminator, by James Cameron. read this first page and you'll see what I mean - it is very visual, and all SHOW, NOT TELL!