28 December 2011

What's it About?

I've got this story . . . it's a pretty cool story. I really like it anyway. A few months ago I spewed forth a crappy rough draft (is there any other kind?) and sat it in the brewing spot, in the hopes that it would percolate and eventually work all of its kinks out.

Yeah, yeah, I know. That never actually happens. But I'm a hopeless optimist (well, sometimes) and live with the expectation that things will work out.

It wasn't going so well. And I got Save the Cat by Blake Snyder for Christmas, so I pulled it out yesterday and started to read.

I found it interesting that the first thing he suggests you do is craft a Logline. Or, in non screen writer terms, an elevator pitch. Your story all wrapped up in a single sentence.

After a few days off work, I was feeling pretty good, and therefore open to some guy telling me how he thought I should write my story, so I kept reading. And as I read I kept thinking. Mostly about my story, and what the logline would be.

It shouldn't be that hard, right? I've put 90,000+ words into this story—how difficult should it be to pull thirty or forty out for an elevator pitch?

Well, let's just say that this part of writing isn't my strong suit. And may I also say that I'm glad I was in the listening mood yesterday.

There are lots of tricks, components and requirements that go into this mysterious and elusive logline.

-A brief set up if needed
-What is your story about?
-Who is your story about?
-What is he/she striving for?
-What stands in their way?

A suggested order is this:
1) Set up
2) Protagonist
3) Goal
4) Antagonistic force

When you mention the protagonist you should toss one or two adjectives in there that give a solid representation of him/her.

The set up need only be used if the world of the story is not our world.

The logline needs to show that the protagonist is going to actively pursue the goal.

And, this may have been my favorite, a logline should give the person reading it a visual image of how this story could play out. A mini-movie in your mind of what could happen. And it should be awesome.

Blake Snyder says (in my words—too lazy to quote) that if you can't do this for your story, then you don't have a story. You should start with this, then you will have a story.

At first I didn't agree, but then I tried it. I experimented on my aforementioned crappy rough draft and found that I didn't have a clear direction for my character vs her main problem.

Sure, there is plenty of conflict, action, romance (as much as needed there) and intrigue, but after I took a long hard look at the story I see that it is indeed lacking in the area of depth in the main character. And it's a great conflict! I just kind of ignored it and went for more of the movie/action bits.

Now that I've written a couple of loglines for it, I think I might be able to get to it and fix it up. Yay!

But before that, I need to finish the last three chapters of my Super Secret Agent story. :)

If you want to check out some examples see the Great Logline Contest

1 comment:

Jordan said...

I want to hear your loglines. Remember how good I am at taglines?