SDFW Series

The Digital Outline: Creating a Beatline for Your Story (SDFW Part 6)

by John Robert Marlow
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The Digital Outline: Creating a Beatline for Your Story
(Story Development For Writers, Part 6)
by John Robert Marlow

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN (OR WOMAN) BEHIND THE CURTAIN

You’ve no doubt heard that art is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. Actually, it’s not that simple. If coming up with the concept is inspiration, and the actual writing is perspiration—that still leaves everything we’re doing now: logline, structure, pitch sheet and (finally) beatline. This is the man-behind-the-curtain-work that makes the final product—the art—seem effortless. To the audience, that is; the artist knows better.

HAMMERING OUT THE DETAILS

Now that we have the logline, structure, and pitch sheet in place, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details of just how, exactly, we get our characters from first page, through all seven story points, past the obstacle (which is usually, but not always, overcome) to the goal—and beyond.

This is the land of story development proper, an area many writers—and most beginners—ignore at their peril. Which sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Every good story is a new destination, never visited before. And unless you have a fondness for blundering through the forest in random directions (a fondness which your readers will not share), you’re going to need a map. Read more…

The One-Minute Story: Crafting a Pitch Sheet for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Tale (SDFW Part 5)

by John Robert Marlow
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The One-Minute Story: Crafting a Pitch Sheet for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Tale
(Story Development For Writers, Part 5)
by John Robert Marlow

PITCHING AS COURTSHIP

We already know (from Part 2 of this series) that most commercial concepts can be conveyed in 10 seconds or less, via something called a logline. Now we’re going to look at expanding that micropitch into something positively extravagant: a one-minute pitch. (Okay, sometimes it’s a minute and a half.)

Story Structure: Laying Down the Bones (SDFW Part 4)

by John Robert Marlow
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Story Structure: Laying Down the Bones
(Story Development For Writers, Part 4)
by John Robert Marlow

SEVEN ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE

Classically-structured (three-act) stories have seven basic structural elements: inciting incident, first act turn, midpoint, low point, second act turn, climax, and denouement or wrap-up. Though you’ll occasionally hear about “mythically structured” tales (like Star Wars) having more than three acts, all of those acts fall within three major acts, so the structure laid out below still holds true.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Really. And the structure is exactly the same for books, movies, and other story venues—because story is story, regardless of medium.

Logline Workshop: Jurassic Park (SDFW, Part 3)

by John Robert Marlow
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Logline Workshop: Jurassic Park
(Story Development For Writers, Part 3)
by John Robert Marlow

Let’s walk through the process from start to finish, working up a logline for a story that most people already know. Jurassic Park was a hugely successful novel that went on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest hits. Keeping that logline mantra in mind—Who, Goal, Obstacle (see Building the Perfect Logline for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Story for more on this)—how do we build a logline for this story? Building the Perfect Logline for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Story for more on this)—how do we build a logline for this story?”> Read more at Make Your Story A Movie .com…

Building the Perfect Logline (SDFW, Part 2)

by John Robert Marlow
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Building the Perfect Logline for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Story
(Story Development For Writers, Part 2)
by John Robert Marlow

THE ONLY QUESTION THAT MATTERS

When you’re selling a story (or trying to), there’s one thing everyone wants to know. To find out, they will ask you a simple question. And they will pre-judge your tale not on its merits, but on the answer you provide. Read more at Make Your Story A Movie .com…

Story Development for Writers, Part 1: The Basics

by John Robert Marlow
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Story Development for Writers, Part 1: The Basics
by John Robert Marlow

HOW NOT TO WRITE

Most writers, when they get around to writing, sit down and do just that—start writing. The story grows with no real plan or, at best, a fuzzy idea about where things are going and (maybe) how they’ll get there.

I know this because, as an editor, I see the less-than-stellar results. And when I ask how things wound up this way, the answer is most often the same: “I just started writing.” For most of us, this is not the way to write things worth reading.