I’ve been studying SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. It’s supposed to be “the Last Book on Screenwriting that you’ll ever need.” So, I’m going to write a screenplay for NaNoWriMo in November? Not at all. But a lot of novelists are giving Snyder’s work a good look because so much of it applies to novel writing as well.
His first suggestion is that, BEFORE you write your script (think novel), you write a good “logline” (think elevator pitch). A short, pithy something that really explains “What is it?” Snyder suggests it should contain 4 major elements: 1) irony, 2)a compelling mental picture, 3) an idea of the target audience (and cost of production for a movie), and 4) a “killer title.”
He gives plenty of examples from movies you’d probably know, or at least know OF. For one: LEGALLY BLONDE. In just those 2 words, Snyder shows the irony of the blonde ditz going to an upscale university, an immediate reaction to the mental picture of such a woman being in this position which would obviously appeal to a lot of women of “a certain age” — especially those just younger, the same, or just older than the main character — and the Killer Title, which says so much more than others like “Barbie Goes To Harvard,” “Totally Law School,” or “Airhead Apparent.”
Write a “logline” or SHORT elevator pitch for your current WIP! How could that help focus your story?
I’d like to second Brenda’s suggestion above. I always say you should be able to tell what your book is about in 25 words or less. I could do that easily with THE CHOSEN ONE–a 13 yr old girl must decide if she will marry her polygamist uncle or escape the life she knows. That’s 20-ish words. However, when I was working on THE HAVEN, for a long time I couldn’t say what my book was about in 25 words or less. I rambled. It’s this girl. She lives in this place. There’s a secret. And a boy. She has a best friend . . . Made no sense because, for a few years, I didn’t know what I was writing about. And guess what? I couldn’t write it, either. Know what your book is about! It will save you lots of grief!
PS THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU’LL EVER GET HERE ON TUP: I use this 25 word rule with people I am talking to, too. Got a long-winded friend and no time to listen? When they start a story say, “Tell it in 25 words or less.” Got someone who has to tell you about his book and you can see it’ll take ten minutes for him to get it done? Say, “Tell it in 25 words or less.” Maybe DON’T say it to a cop who’s pulled you over. But maybe yes to a cop who’s your pal. Use it with Sunbeams, Laurels, and next door neighbors. Best of all, use it on yourself.
There are hundreds of studies about why people love fairy tales, but the truth is, no one can really know. All we know is that some stories stay with us and are passed down to our children and our children’s children.
What’s important to us as writers is analyzing the aspects of fairy tales that we love most.
For me, I love the idea of falling in love with the person you were meant to be with all along. Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty fits this, as does Shannon Hale’s GOOSE GIRL.
I don’t find it romantic when you have to fight the world to be together. I don’t want the people I love most to despise the person I’m with. I want to believe that my family and friends love me and know me well enough to be able to pick the man I love out of a line-up, without me telling them. That’s why the ending of ROMEO AND JULIET works for me, because when you have to fight everyone for your “true” love (and after a week, was it really love?) everyone ends up miserable.
What about you? Which fairy tales work for you? Which fall flat?