Original idea & logline: using them to write a better story, part two
In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of writing down your one-sentence original idea. This is the very first idea you had—whether it’s about plot, character, or theme—that got you excited about writing your story. Reading your original idea each day before writing will keep you focused on your story.
Another exercise is to develop your one-sentence logline. In his book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, screenwriter Blake Snyder said that if we develop our logline before we begin writing, it will help us write a better manuscript.
According to Snyder, there are four main elements to a great logline:
- A good logline has to have irony. He gives an example from the blockbuster movie Pretty Woman: “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.” Pretty ironic, huh? Another way to define irony, Snyder said, is that something unexpected happens. He also calls this the “hook.”
- A good logline has to create a compelling mental image of the entire story. A good logline “blossoms in your brain. You see the movie, or at least the potential for it, and the mental images it creates offer the promise of more.” In other words you get a glimpse of where the script is going. He lists the pitch for the movie Blind Date: She’s the perfect woman—until she has a drink.” What can you see in this line?
- A good logline will give the studio or publisher an idea of the intended audience. He uses the example of the movie Four Christmases and its logline: “A newly married couple must spend Christmas Day at each of their four divorced parents’ homes.” He says this movie is probably going after the same audience as Meet the Parents and its sequel Meet the Fockers.
- A good logline must include a killer title. Read my earlier post for more on this.
Read Snyder’s Save the Cat to learn more about creating a hot logline—one that will have agents and publishers falling over themselves to hear more about your story.
Exercise: Write the one-sentence logline for your work-in-progress. Once you think you have it, compare it to the four qualities above. If one or more of these qualities are lacking in your logline, rewrite it until it meets all the above criteria.
I love loglines! They really do help for novels.
Save the Cat Strikes Back has even more information on loglines and goes into each of the elements in more detail.
I usually send my loglines through to Script Quack for critiquing. They do such a good job and point out holes I would never have seen on my own.
Thanks for the tips, Jessica. I’ll definitely check out Script Quack!