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.” Read more
The late screenwriter and writing mentor Blake Synder taught that in order to have your reader or audience fall in love with your main character, you had to have a “save the cat” scene. This is a scene where your protagonist performs a simple act of compassion toward another.
In Snyder’s words, “It’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something–like saving a cat–that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.” (From Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need).
Watch the short clip below of Clint Eastwood’s “Hang ‘Em High,” hosted by author Steve White, that shows the “save the cat” scene in action:
To read what Snyder has to say about titles, see my previous post, “A killer title must have irony and tell a tale.”
In his well-known book on screenwriting, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, Blake Snyder explained that the title of your screenplay (or novel) is an important component of your logline (for a novel, think of the logline as your one sentence pitch).
A killer title, he wrote, must have irony and tell the tale of the story. One of his favorite movie titles was, “Legally Blonde,” because it encompassed the essence of the story and was unexpectedly humorous. On the other hand, he felt the movie title, “For Love or Money,” was a horrible title because it was too vague. (There’s even been four different movies with that title, none of them memorable).
Snyder’s advice on titles can apply to any writing project–even poetry or short stories. He made me realize that the working title for my current project had to go because it met none of his criteria for a good title–it didn’t show what the novel was about, it wasn’t unusual or ironic, and it didn’t hook the reader. In fact, the old title probably got in the way of my writing. Yikes! I may change the title again in the future but at least my new working title is pointing me in the right direction–the direction my story wants to go in. Read more