Monday, June 20, 2011

A Very Beautiful Loglines

Last week, a friend of mine wrote a post about screenwriting. This is not unusual, since this person is herself an aspiring screenwriter, but the topic of this particular post was particularly focused on something I think gets mostly forgotten by people who hope to one day prove to the world that their writing is worth something. Or anything....anything at all.
"A logline, or a one-liner, is something that big muckety-mucks in the film world use as a cheat sheet to the big question on any film goers mind: what is this about? It is a couple of quick and to the point sentences answering just that question." 
The first thing any screenwriting hopeful should understand is that no one, no one wants to hear your half-hour, rambling summary of whatever you're working on. Not even your mother, though she might pretend to, bless her.

Here's an example: Weighted is about a boy who can fly and his sister, who can't.

There can be more, of course. It depends on how much of the story you want to reveal in its logline. There are augmented versions of the above example that get into more of what happens, and why, and even how the whole thing resolves, but the kernel of the story is right there in that one sentence. That really is what Weighted is about. So whenever anyone asks me, I have a really short, simple answer for them. And guess what, that's all they really want to know anyway.

But my friend goes on to point out another, less-obvious purpose for these little buggers.
"And the reason that I have to be good at them, besides simply selling one, is that it doesn't serve you as a writer to keep endlessly writing a screenplay or novel about something that you're not quite sure about. The story starts to take some interesting detours in and out of genre and theme and SENSE when you don't know precisely what is supposed to happen."
In other words, you better know what your story is about, in the simplest possible terms, or it'll never be good, even if you manage to miraculously finish it.

Here's a link to the whole post. Read the whole thing through--she's an engaging writer, so I promise you won't be bored.

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