Outlining – Simpsons Style

Philip HarrisChatter, WritingLeave a Comment

A long time ago, I forget where, I saw Matt Groening talking about the script writing process for The Simpsons – specifically how they make sure each episode is funny. Given that everyone appreciates different types of humour and the same gag can have one person rolling around on the floor while the person next to them yawns and suggests they switch over to Two and a Half Men they need to pack as many jokes into each episode as possible. They do that by iterating over the script multiple times. Each time they add another layer of jokes, one liners and visual gags until the episode is full of funny (or they run out of time).

We apply the same idea in video game development and call it polish. It’s an essential part of the creative process, in my opinion. It’s the only way to get to that secret something, that special sauce, that separates a great game or show or movie or book from the merely good.

That’s what I’m doing with my Ghost Smuggler outline this week.

I’ve built my outline based on a mixture of the first draft and my latest ideas and now I’m running through the story in my head, writing and rewriting, cutting out things I don’t think are strong enough and refining the things that are. This is my first attempt at this sort of detailed outlining and it’s been tough – very tough – but bit by bit the story is getting stronger and the end result should be worth the pain.

[The article Outlining – Simpsons Style by Philip Harris originally appeared on Solitary Mindset on February 5th, 2013]

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