Ask yourself this: what do my characters want? Not just your main character, which is a huge ginormous duh. You know, the other guys running around in your world.
Recently I watched a very funny BBC sitcom called ‘Whites’ which features a dysfunctional kitchen crew in a high-end eatery. In this show, every character has wants:
- Roland wants Caroline
- Bibs wants a baby
- Skoose wants Bib’s job
- Kiki wants Skoose
- Caroline want slacker Roland to work harder and be more open-minded with his menu
- Celia want Roland
Some of these are big wants, some are small wants. But they all want something. It’s a great way to add definition to your characters: give them some wants.
If you are into foreign films, you may want to consider the following–
Therese Raquin (1953)–This black and white French film-noir centers on a dispirited housewife who brazenly begins an affair with a brawny trick driver.
Take My Eyes (2005)–In this Spanish drama, a battered wife flees her violent husband and struggles to start a new life as he desperately tries to win her back.
Story of a Love Affair (1950)–Consumed by the thought that his young wife is cheating on him, Enrico hires a detective to tail her in this quirky Italian thriller about jealousy, passion and betrayal.
All of these are available on Netflix streaming.
A good logline is a tough construct; On the surface it appears quite lucid, written in an elequent prose that’s easy on the eyes. Ostensibly a child could have written it, right? To the contrary. The logline is a beastly rap that needs taming. In one line (maybe two), it is the soul of the tale:
genre, protagonist, goal, conflict
IE: War Movie – In WW2, a U.S. Army Captain must lead a squad on a mission through the Normandy invasion to locate one lone solider and bring him out of harm’s way. – Saving Private Ryan
All there before the period. And a great logline goes one step further: it compels. It is an enchanting siren in an ocean of sub-par one-liners, enticing the reader to Read me! Watch me! There are some that can’t resist it’s call. Instead of writing ninety or so pages, try boiling your tale down to one sentence. Easier said than done.