Logline

The logline is probably the hardest sentence to write.

The logline sums up a story in one sentence. This sentence should be memorable and clear, which means it is unlikely to be much longer than thirty words or to have complex syntax.

Once your reader has read your logline – or your listener heard it –, they will ideally know the following about your story:

  1. who it is about
  2. what the central conflict or main problem is
  3. what the most important characters do in the story
  4. why they do it, i.e. what their motivations are
  5. how they do it
  6. where all this happens, i.e. what the setting is
  7. when it happens, i.e. what the period is

The first of these points even counts double – since usually the logline should convey not only who the main protagonist is, but also what antagonism she faces.

What’s the logline for?

The purpose of the logline is to pitch your story.(more…)

Step Outline

The step outline is the scene by scene (step by step) account of what happens in the story.

Like a textual storyboard, the step outline presents the narrative in its entirety – without actually being the narrative. It is a complete report of the story – in the present tense! – that describes every plot event.

Cause and Effect

The step outline therefore makes one of the most important principles of storytelling very clear, cause and effect.

Apart from the kick-off event and the closing event, every plot event fulfils two functions, at least to an extent:

  • It is a precondition of events that follow it in the narrative
  • It is an inevitable consequence of events that have preceded it in the narrative

The step outline should make it easier to understand how the individual events relate to each other in this chain of cause and effect. The step outline may thus be read as the author’s construction plan of the narrative.(more…)

The Character Action that Pivots the Plot

Action is character.

So the old storytelling adage. What does that mean, exactly?

In this post, we’ll consider:

  • The central or pivotal action – the midpoint
  • Actions – what the character does
  • Reluctance
  • Need
  • Character and Archetype

The central or pivotal action – the midpoint

More or less explicitly, the main character of a story is likely to have some sort of task to complete. The task is generally the verb to the noun of the goalrescue the princess, steal the diamond. The character thinks that by achieving the goal, he or she will get what they want, which is typically a state free of a problem the character is posed at the beginning of the story.

The action is what, specifically, the character does in order to achieve the goal: rescue the princess, steal the diamond. In many cases, this action takes place in a central scene. Central not only in importance, but central in the sense of being in the middle.

Let’s look at some examples. (more…)

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