[Script Frenzy] Plot Bunny

Script Frenzy has begun, and you may already be stuck.  I’m going to share a few plot outlining tips and familiarize you with my SF project, which I’ll be discussing quite a bit this month.

The first is the logline, one of the first things your Frenzy profile asks you for after title and genre.  A logline is a one-sentence summary of your plot. Essentially, writing a logline means you have to boil down your entire 100-page script into a single concept.

Still confused?  Here’s the logline for my SF project:

Two teen delinquents team up to overcome obstacles and attend college despite their lifelong gang leader rivalry.

While it doesn’t go in-depth – and doesn’t even give the characters’ names – the logline is an effective plot summary.  While it’s not exactly the most exciting, it’s good enough to get me started.  The nicest thing about a logline is that you can edit and change as you go along, but I’m going to save those kinds of things for after I finish the script.  That way, I’ll be able to examine the plot and create a better hook for my logline.

Exercise: Write loglines for “Terminator,” “The Proposal,” “Spider-Man,” “Bring It On,” and “Star Wars.”

Next, we’ll talk about the “____ meets ____” format.  While it’s not technically a real format, it helps you think about your story in a different way – plus the Script Frenzy website features “____ meets ____” on the front page.  This format is less about the basic concept of your script – which is what the logline is for – and more about the style in which you’ll write your script.

I like this format because it’s an interesting way to work out the kinks in your style, especially for loose adaptions.  Compare your project to two movies or books that others might be familiar with:

My script is 10 Things I Hate About You meets Toradora!.

Quick and painless, right?  If you want to learn more about either of those things, you can click on the titles – though I’m sure you’ve seen 10 Things I Hate About You, especially if you were a 90’s kid.

Exercise: Use the “____ meets ____” format for the following books: “The Hunger Games,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” “Ender’s Game,” and “Holes.”

Now that you’ve got your concept and your style straightened out, we can talk about plot. I’m sure most of you are familiar with outlining, a pretty common trick for working on a big project, whether it’s a novel or a film. We’re going to try a different way to outline your plot: using the three-part format.

Break down your story into three major plot arcs: the beginning, the middle, and the end. This author does a nice, rather in-depth post about the three-part plot structure – he even has pictures – so I’ll just give you a little suggestion instead: try writing your three arcs as three separate paragraphs. Fitting with the concept of the three-part structure, the first paragraph should be more of an introduction, whereas much of the action would take place in the second and third parts.

Your paragraphs can be as long or as short as you like. Here is my first paragraph:

Ryan, a physically intimidating teen, fronts as the leader of the Blue Dragons gang, but he’s actually a big softie who loves cooking and keeping house more than fighting. After a huge fight against rival gang the Tiger Grrls – and rival gang leader Tori – Ryan decides he wants to quit the Blue Dragons to pursue his dream of following the lovely Kate, Tori’s best friend, to college. Tori, who has a huge crush on Ryan’s best friend David, threatens to reveal his humiliating crush unless he helps her get into the same college as David.

I do have two more, but that should give you a decent idea of how to begin – the second paragraph describes Ryan and Tori’s exploits as they attempt to get into college and the third paragraph introduces the plot after a crisis erupts. Got an idea of how to do it? Now it’s your turn.

Exercise: Write a three-paragraph summary of your Script Frenzy project. You can also do “The Godfather,” “The Lion King,” “The Parent Trap,” “Miss Congeniality,” or “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for outside practice.

Finally, it’s time to title your project! Titles can be tricky, but you can always change it later.  Pick out a specific phrase or image from your project to start with.  Decide if it would make an eye-catching title – or even just make a nice working title – and stick it on your title page.

I chose “Half-Sized Tiger” as my title.  That’s the nickname of one of the characters, Tori, that Ryan gave her as something rather rude or unpleasant.  Eventually, the meaning of the nickname changes as Ryan’s perspective of Tori changes.

What is the title of your Script Frenzy project?

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