The Outline

This is the outline read in the Cindy Hewitt Screenwriting II class at UCLA December 3, 2009.


“Unwritten Pages” outline by Paul Quade

Log Line – A middle-aged loser gets a second chance at youth, but struggles with Fate to choose between success or selflessness before time runs out.


Doors bursts open on an emergency room and a man on a stretcher is wheeled in.  This is Bob.  Paramedics brief the Doctors about Bob’s condition.  It doesn’t look good.  Bob’s vitals are dropping.  His eyes flicker.

Bob’s life flashes before his eyes.

Blackness.  A heartbeat.  A baby.

Bob in elementary school.  Bob walks into a boys room.  Bullies are picking on a younger kid named Simon.  Bob tells them to stop.  They say they’ll leave him alone if Bob gives them his lunch money.  Bob gives them his lunch money.  They take it.  They give both Bob and Simon a swirly.  Bob says they lied.  The bully says, “so sue me.”

Bob in high-school.  Bob makes a final summary in a debate.  He wins.  His coach tell him he’d make a good lawyer.

Bob at college.  Meets Jill, a beautiful girl working in the college bookstore.  She’s the girl of his dreams.  She’s pre-med.  He’s pre-law.  They go out.  Jill’s family makes too much money for her to qualify for aid, but not enough to pay for school.  She’s working her way through college.

Bob as a law clerk.  The boss points to a motivational poster of a sandglass.  Below it in large type; “TIME” and below that;

“What Is The Most Important Thing You Should Be Doing Right Now?”

Bob works hard.

Bob at 28.  Bob’s boss complains he has put the wrong year on a report.  Bob realizes two years of his life seem to have vanished.  Jill is gone.  Bob asks a co-worker about Jill who says she ran out of money and had to quit school.  Bob’s life is empty.  He’s growing older alone.

Bob at 42.  He has turned into a middle-aged office drone.

Bob’s friends are concerned.  Bob needs to eat better and exercise.  While jogging for his health, Bob is hit by a bus.

A white void.  A heart beat.  A man.

Bob looks for the Pearly Gates.  A woman sits at a desk writing in a black 5 by 8 inch black book.  The desk is piled high with more black books.  Behind the woman are thousands more women, all of them look exactly alike, all sitting at desks, all piled high with black books.

Bob talks to the woman.

“Hi.  I’m Fate.”

“Faith?”

“No.  Fate.  Faith has nothing to do with this.”

Fate explains that these are all the Fates that write each person’s ‘Book of Life.’  Well, write probably isn’t right; it’s more like an outline.

Life used to be simpler and there used to only be three Fates, but with six billion people on earth at any given moment, they’ve had to expand and they’re horribly behind, so outlining is about the most they do now and it allows for some free will.

“Free will?  How can I have any free will if everything in my life is predetermined?”

“You still get to choose what you’re having for lunch.”

Bob asks to see his book.  Fate hands him the book and he flips through it.  Everything after page 46 is blank.

“Really?  Middle of page 46 you just write ‘hit by a bus’ and that’s it?”

“Yeah, pretty much.  I’m done with this book now.”

“That’s the end?”

“‘Hit by a bus,’ did I really need to write more?”

Bob flips through more pages.  Flip, flip, flip, thunk.  Stuck.  There are pages 24 and 25, on the other side, 28 and 29.  Two pages are stuck together.  Bob carefully thumbs the pages and they unstick.

Pages 26 and 27 are blank.

“You skipped them?  If you skipped them, what happened to me?”

“Ever lose track of time?  Put the wrong day or month on a check?  That’s how it goes.  We skip something, it doesn’t exist, you don’t even remember.”

“What?!  This is two whole pages!”

“It’s just an outline anyway.”

“Outline!  It’s two years of my life!”

“Already submitted and approved before you were born.  I can’t change a word of what is written.”

“What about what you didn’t write?”

“My work on this is done.  Just let it go.”

“No!  I might not have been a great lawyer, but I know a product liability lawsuit when I see one.  Who approved this?  Who’s your supervisor?”

Bob, threatens to expose Fate if she doesn’t fix it.

Bob and Fate strike a deal and make a contract.

Bob will go back in time and Fate will transcribe into the book what he does so the complete story will make sense.

Bob sent back to end of page 25 in his Book of Life.

Bob regrets not having spent more time with Jill.  This time Bob’s going to do it right.  Bob and Jill go out of dates, discuss the future, children and his dislike of jogging.

Bob uses his knowledge gained in life to get past issues and win Jill.  What are the things you would change in life if you could go back?

Fate visits Bob in a dream.  Bob’s book had already been written. There was simply no way to change that.  Fate tells Bob the bottom of page 27 has to make sense with the top of page 28.

Bob ignores Fate.  Fate begins to make appearances in Bob’s life to screw up his relationship with Jill and make the bottom of page 27 match up with the top of page 28.

Fate insinuates herself into Bob and Jill’s relationship.  Fate breaks them apart.  Bob can’t marry Jill. He can’t become a success. That part is done. Finished and unchangeable.

Bob appeals to the Fate. He’s been cheated. No. Actually, they had an agreement. This is the way is was to be and there was noting that could be done about it.

Bob resigns himself to the deal made with Fate.

Bob sees the only thing to do is to sacrifice his last year to make her life better.  He secretly arranges dates for Jill with men he has screened.  With the money he has accumulated, he creates an anonymous trust fund for Jill.  Bob writes a note summarizing the entire story to Jill and on the bottom of page 27, goes to sleep.

Bob in operating room.  Dr. Jill saves him.

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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