The boneyard is a place where screenwriters go when they want to gain new perspectives, ideas, and inspiration.

A boneyard is a term used to describe some aspect of a story or idea that a screenwriter has shelved.

Often for an undetermined amount of time.

Let’s take a look!

What Is the boneyard

What Is the boneyard in screenwriting?

The Boneyard is the section of your script where you can find a bunch of useful sections like your characters, their descriptions and actions, their dialogue, and more. It also includes your scene headings and transitions.

In some screnwriting apps, you can find an aspect of your screen reserved for the boneyard.

It’s called a boneyard because it’s just a collection of all the bones of your screenplay that you can then easily copy-paste into your script.

Exploring the Boneyard in Screenwriting: A Writer’s Treasure Trove

In the screenwriting world, the boneyard is a term that’s as intriguing as it sounds.

It’s the graveyard where discarded script ideas and characters go to rest, or sometimes, to be resurrected.

We’ll jump into the shadows of the boneyard, exploring how it serves as a creative cache for writers.

Stick with us to uncover the secrets of this fascinating aspect of screenplay development.

What Is The Boneyard In Screenwriting?

The boneyard in screenwriting is a metaphorical place where our scrapped ideas and characters dwell.

It’s often a section of our notes or a digital folder containing elements that didn’t make the final cut.


Screenwriters routinely visit their boneyard for inspiration.

We might salvage a dialogue snippet, a character trait, or an entire subplot from this repository when we’re stuck on a current project.

Many of cinema’s most memorable moments have been resurrected from a boneyard.

Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and the theme for Jaws were once discarded ideas that found new life thanks to persistence and creativity.

Our boneyards serve multiple purposes:

  • A testing ground for ideas that aren’t fully developed,
  • An archive for concepts that may not fit our current screenplay but could shine elsewhere,
  • A treasure trove for elements that could add depth or an innovative twist to our stories in the future.

Creating a boneyard allows us to take risks without fear of losing our ideas forever.

It empowers us to cut liberally when refining our scripts, secure in the knowledge that no idea is ever truly lost.

By revisiting the boneyard regularly, we ensure that no potential masterpiece slips through our fingers.

We recognize the power of these forgotten fragments to sometimes be the key to unlocking writer’s block or transforming a good screenplay into a great one.

The Role Of The Boneyard In Screenplay Development

The boneyard in screenwriting plays a pivotal role during the creative process of developing a screenplay.

It’s where writers store their unused ideas – a reservoir of creativity that can be tapped into at any time.

Screenwriters often find that the act of sifting through their boneyard sparks new concepts, or provides the missing piece to a script they are actively working on.

In the boneyard, ideas that were once deemed unfit or premature can mature or merge with new inspirations to create a unique storyline.

It serves not just as a storage space, but as a breeding ground where past efforts can synergize with current creative energies.


The old adage that nothing is ever truly wasted in writing rings especially true here.

Key aspects of the boneyard include:

  • Preservation of originality and creative efforts,
  • Storage of characters and dialogue for future use,
  • Opportunity to revisit and refine ideas that were not initially clear.

The boneyard is a testament to the iterative nature of screenwriting.

Ideas evolve, and what once seemed irrelevant can suddenly become central to a film’s plot or a character’s arc.

Enhancement of a screenplay can often be found within the depths of the boneyard.

For screenwriters, it’s a space without judgment, where every idea – no matter how outlandish it might initially appear – is given due consideration.

As stories develop and scripts undergo revision, the boneyard is frequently raided for bits and pieces that add texture and depth to a narrative.

In essence, the boneyard’s role is to supply an ongoing stream of possibilities that can be plucked from obscurity and woven into the fabric of a compelling screenplay.

Ideas that languish in the boneyard often become the very elements that set a film apart, infusing it with originality and distinction.


Why Do Discarded Script Ideas And Characters End Up In The Boneyard?

In the realm of screenwriting, rejected concepts and roles often find a place in the boneyard for a multitude of reasons – not all ideas resonate with the current storyline or theme.

Even though their initial dismissal, these abandoned elements hold potential that may not align with the script at hand, but could enhance future projects.

Characters and narratives that are carved out of a draft serve a purpose, even in their absence from the final piece.

They act as a testament to the evolving nature of storytelling where edits and revisions are constants.

The essence of a boneyard is to nurture a space of potential and possibility for ideas that aren’t quite ready to disappear.

It’s a sign of hope that a sidelined character or plot point might one day be ripe for resurgence into a new narrative.

Ideas that are set aside are rarely without merit; they simply await the right moment or context to thrive.

Listed are a few primary reasons why ideas often get benched:

  • They distract from the core narrative,
  • There’s a mismatch with the overall tone or theme,
  • They require more development to shine,
  • The pacing of the story dictates their removal,
  • They surpass the scope of the current project.

It’s these compelling prospects that keep the boneyard an integral and invaluable part of the creative process.

As a reservoir for creativity, the boneyard inspires us to reflect and reconsider, assuring that someday these fragments might anchor their own unique and spellbinding tales.

How Does The Boneyard Serve As A Creative Cache For Writers?

The boneyard in screenwriting is an invisible goldmine, brimming with discarded gems that can redefine a script’s edge.

It holds a minefield of past creativity that, although once cast aside, contains the seeds of future narrative breakthroughs.

Writers may find that the boneyard serves several crucial functions in their creative process.

These functions include:

  • A repository for raw ideas that were not ready at their inception,
  • A source of inspiration when tackling writer’s block or looking for fresh angles,
  • A salvage yard for reworking characters or plot points that didn’t originally fit.

When writers sift through the boneyard, they often encounter ideas that have matured with time.

It’s a space where context and experience allow once-rejected concepts to flourish in new soil.

The boneyard encourages the recycling of ideas and the philosophy that no creation is ever truly wasted.

This mindset helps maintain a flow of creativity without the fear of permanent loss.

One might consider the boneyard as the writer’s personal think tank – housing a plethora of partial scripts, unnamed characters, and nebulous plotlines.

These fragments often lay the groundwork for parts of a story that just needs that extra spark.

In essence, tapping into the boneyard keeps a writer’s toolbox forever replenished.

It’s where we as screenwriters rediscover past iterations of our evolving stories and, in doing so, breathe new life into the pages of our current projects.

Resurrecting Ideas And Characters From The Boneyard

In the labyrinth of screenwriting, it’s not uncommon for us to stumble upon past endeavors, recognizing their potential for resurrection.

The boneyard is rich with the seeds of narratives and personas once cast aside, awaiting the right project to bring them to the forefront.

Our exploration into the depths of discarded scripts often leads to unexpected treasures – characters and plotlines that have gained relevance or urgency with the passage of time.

What seemed outdated or out-of-sync now resonates with the current cultural climate, infusing our stories with renewed vitality.

We find characters in the boneyard that were once too complex or misunderstood, and now, with a fresh perspective, we can reimagine them with the depth they deserve.

Films like The Godfather or series like Stranger Things showcase reimagined archetypes that likely found their first breath in a writer’s boneyard.

Revisiting the boneyard offers us the chance to see our work through a different lens, often leading to the fusion of old ideas with new ones to produce something truly innovative.

This mash-up of concepts is not just a means of recycling, but also an avenue to enhance story arcs and character development.

Our creative process benefits greatly from the boneyard’s existence as it:

  • Ensures ideas are never wasted,
  • Allows concepts to evolve organically over time,
  • Provides a stockpile of creativity for dry spells.

Reviving ideas from the boneyard is a sustainable approach that empowers us to continually enrich our story-telling tapestry.

It’s a conscious effort to acknowledge that sometimes, the right moment for an idea hasn’t come yet – but eventually, it will shine within the perfect narrative or character arc.

What Is The Boneyard In Screenwriting – Wrap Up

We’ve seen how the boneyard in screenwriting is far from a graveyard of failed ideas; it’s a goldmine for innovation and creativity.

By embracing the concept of the boneyard, we’re never at a loss for material—our past musings can become the cornerstone of tomorrow’s masterpieces.

It’s an essential part of our creative toolkit, ensuring that every idea has the potential to contribute to our storytelling success.

Let’s continue to explore our boneyard, confident that it will lead to richer, more compelling narratives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A “boneyard” In Screenwriting?

A “boneyard” in screenwriting is a metaphorical place where writers store discarded ideas, characters, and plot points.

It functions as a repository and source of inspiration for future projects.

How Does The Boneyard Benefit Screenwriters?

The boneyard benefits screenwriters by serving as a think tank, holding raw material that can be revisited, reworked, and infused into new projects, ensuring a constant flow of creativity.

Can Old Ideas In The Boneyard Be Reused?

Yes, old ideas in the boneyard often mature over time and can be reworked into new and innovative projects, providing a sustainable approach to storytelling.

How Does The Boneyard Encourage Recycling Of Ideas?

The boneyard encourages recycling ideas by keeping them accessible for future review and integration, allowing writers to combine old concepts with new ones for fresh storytelling.

Is The Boneyard Seen As A Waste Or An Asset?

The boneyard is seen as an invaluable asset, as it prevents the permanent loss of ideas, allowing concepts to evolve and keeps the writer’s toolbox replenished.