Talking Draft

Most first drafts don’t get finished.

Why? Two big reasons: 1) people skimp on the outline. 2) people try to edit while they write. 

First, about outlines – without an outline, some writers discover plot holes too late and the result is the infamous undrawn horse:



The Talking Draft Method works wonders if you do like Howard Hawks did when he invented the technique and begin with a tight outline.


A great outline sets your story at the macro and micro levels. With’s free script outliner, begin by defining the large “sections” of your outline – your story at the macro scale – sometimes called a “beat sheet.” Our outliner generates page targets for how long these various sections should be depending on what structure you follow. 


The things you write in your beat sheet is the 10,000-foot view of your story. Begin by defining the big picture of your story in general terms. When summarizing the big picture view, brevity is key. One could sum up the entire 2nd Act of The The Wizard of Oz simply:


  • After Dorothy lands in Oz, she and her dog must follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard who can supposedly return her home, she makes friends on the way.

When you’re done with your beat sheet, then you drill into one of your sections and begin defining the individual scenes. This is sometimes called a “step outline.” Each scene description in your outline serves to remind you only of the vitals: precisely what the scene needs to accomplish…or exactly what a character needs to discover in that specific location. For example, the first scene of the 2nd Act in Wizard of Oz could be simply:


  • Dorothy takes her first steps down the yellow brick road – song.


Using the Talking Draft Method, these short reminders exist simply to cue your creative improv. Whenever you can imagine a scene, click the “talk your draft” mic icon on any one of your scenes and then talk aloud a play-by-play of the movie that plays in your mind’s eye. 

When you’re done with that scene, simply move on to the next one..

The Iron Rule

As in ironing clothes. When we iron a shirt, we tend to iron heavily in one portion and then expand that well ironed bit further. If we are lucky enough to not run out of steam before finishing the whole job, the result of this ironing style is that one area in your work will be perfect but other parts have been barely touched. When this principle is applied to storytelling, it looks again like the undrawn horse.


So do not let yourself run out of steam – do NOT edit as you go. Don’t look back. And if you’re transcribing, don’t look at the output. Any misspelling will only make you want to stop and press backspace. Only forward!


Move at the pace of the scenes as they play in your mind’s eye. Don’t bother with saying transitions, parentheticals, or location slugs. 


And you surely don’t want to utter clunky voice commands like “tab, tab” or “character name” or anything else that bucks you out of your creative flow-state or knocks you off your story’s pace. When it’s done right, a Talking Draft can be completed in nearly the same amount of time as the runtime. 


With a moderate amount of outline planning, the Talking Draft Method can carry you from your beat sheet to your first draft in one sitting.

Click As You Go

The last hurdle to a painless Talking Draft is the issue of what’s called diarization: noting “who-says-what-when” in dialogue. Other software requires you to go through a big block of transcribed text and manually break it into chunks according to who says what. That is a huge, unnecessary pain and it slows down the process to a grind.



We found that notating your dictation as you talk is the best way to keep racing forward using the Talking Draft Method. Some screenwriters have used stenography hardware to do this, others use a lap stopwatch matched to a spreadsheet where each character was noted simply by a number (and zero as an action line).



We incorporated some of these ideas, and also invented a few new one to come up with a custom diarization method perfect for screenwriters. The result is 


As you dictate your action lines and dialogue, you can diarize with one finger! Thanks to our new technology, one of classic Hollywood’s best-kept secrets can become your own secret weapon.

What the Talking Draft Method does better than anything is to get your first draft done fast – like the speed of sound fast. As Phoebe Waller-Bridge says: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

“Sometimes you’re swinging your way through a first draft like a blind miner with a pick-axe. That’s OK. Just get it done.”

- Justin Marks

So if you believe that the first draft just needs to get done, and you can trust yourself to fix your draft later, the Talking Draft Method saves you from most of the traps of a first draft because we give you a beatsheet calculator and script outliner for free and our Talking Draft tool exports spaghetti on the wall that you can rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

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