This blog is not a be all and end of of what makes a good script. This blog is just offering a diagnostic tool that can help you in the writing process.
The one sentence synopsis.
Writing one sentence to define what your movie is about is actually harder than it sounds. Defining your concept and who the story is about is intended to do a few things and do them very well. It should clarify the deeper meaning you are expressing with your story. It should clarify who the audience is going to follow on this journey. It should identify if you are trying to say too much at once with your story. Most of all it helps to break down your script into the key beats of the story. A movie can have many different structures, different structures will change the way this sentence can be used but for now just think about simplifying what you are trying to say by writing the sentence about the protagonist of your story.
Who is doing what to whom and why?
The one sentence synopsis has to answer this question in order to communicate what you’re film is about. The following is a breakdown of this sentence to give you a few ideas about it’s function.
The “who” is all about your character and as a writer they will often be a reflection of you as a person or a part of your personality. Stories seem to hold truth if you really do put yourself into the main character. Not an idea of your self but a true representation of how you honestly react in situations. Self exploration is a very big part of writing truthful stories. Ask your self: What am I truly capable of? Often searching the darker side of one’s self helps to define things that you may have overcome or things that you are capable of. These things often make interesting insights. A lot of writers will research a subject or person very deeply until they understand it/them enough to write about. For one reason or another they don’t want to write about themselves. The “who” is the protagonist in the story and should always take actions that move the story forward, toward an end. The “who” depicted in the linked image is a stationary detective. He is the observer who can’t do anything to stop the horrors he witnesses. His stories are left untold.
Let’s move on to the “what” It is important that the protagonist is doing something and doing it for a reason. The “what” is the action(s) the protagonist takes in order to overcome the “whom” in order to get what he/she wants. Deciding what your “who” wants is a very important step in deciding the “what” they are going to do to get it. The what in this story much like the character in Alfred Hitchcock‘s, Rear Window (1954). He watches and functions as a window for the audience to peer through. Other student’s work.
The “whom” is the opposing force to the “who”. It is the force that is working against the “who” reaching his/her goals. This can often be where the writer focuses on their weaknesses and personifies them into a character. This is perhaps the funnest part of writing because it is like playing a game of chess against yourself. You have to wear a different hat and think “how can I make life more difficult for my “who”. Stories are not interesting without conflict, create conflict whenever you can. The whom depicted in the link is the dark characters that generate fear through their actions. The stationary detective is powerless to intervene.
Something that can be used make this whole process easier is brain storming. You take the truth and you write down 100 words that you associate with this truth. You start with the obvious ones and keep going until you’re moving further and further away. People can only remember about seven things in a list off the top of their head. For example when I ask you to name the seven dwarves without googling them you will only be able to say about six really quickly. If I ask you to name a soft drink, you will most likely say the brand leader and if you were to go down a list you would most likely only get to seven. The two important points here are that people generally have the things they see the most at the top of their mind and people have a limited amount of total recall at any one time. Top of mind awareness can make people immediately reject a truth that is presented to them in an obvious way because they know it already. It is not new or interesting to them. Brain storming helps you find ideas that push past top of mind awareness by going outside of the common associations into ones that are that are “unexpected”. To help come up with a way of presenting a truth in an unexpected way write a list of 100 to 200 words that you associate with this truth. Start putting words from this list into coherent ideas that inspire you to write about your truth. The more people you involve in this process the larger your pool will be. #cmwp Once you have completed this brain storming exercise try to structure a one sentence synopsis defining who is doing what to whom and why. This one sentence can be used far beyond initial concept. It fact I believe the “who is doing what to whom and why” is bests used for deciding what happens in each specific scene. I hope this has been helpful and please comment if you agree, disagree or would like to discuss.
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