What’s your story about?
It’s the most frightening question in the world if all you have is a blank stare. But what if you had an attention-grabbing answer that left your audience wanting more? It’s not only possible, it’s simple if you have the right tools.
Story consultant Jordan Smith has helped countless storytellers strengthen and pitch their stories. His tool of choice is the logline, a technique for selling screenplays that is little known outside of Hollywood. Jordan has adapted this powerful tool and made it accessible to all storytellers.
Not only is a logline useful for answering that frightening question, it’s also handy for keeping your story on track. If you don’t know the core of your story, you run the risk of meandering it into places where it doesn’t belong. With these techniques, you can solve story problems early before they cause you trouble.
What’s a logline? Well, it’s the essence of your story squashed into a single sentence. (Well, sometimes more than one, but that’s not the norm. Jordan talks about that in his book.) Concentrated epicness, if you will. That is, if it isn’t, then your story has a problem. It gives your audience just enough of your plot to tease their curiosity and make them come hammering on your door for a copy of your book. Potent, huh?
I didn’t worry about loglines for a long time. Then again, my writing wasn’t fantastic by any stretch of the imagination (And yes, that does mean that I usually think my writing is fairly decent now. I’m very humble like that.), and nobody asked me about it anyways. I never had to worry about answering the dreaded question – What is my story about? Until this year. Suddenly people are starting to ask me. And I get all tongue-tied and stammer out something about a Rapunzel-rewrite-that’s-really-not-as girly-as-it-sounds-and-her-name-isn’t-Rapunzel-anyways and feel ashamed of my story. MY STORY. That I’m working towards publishing. Why should I feel ashamed of it because I can’t accurately describe it to a curious listener? That’s ridiculous. Along comes Jordan’s book, Finding the Core of Your Story.
This guy has worked with loglines a lot. Seriously. I’ve watched him hammer through loglines with budding authors on an online forum I’m a part of, and he is really good. So he knows what he’s talking about. Not only that, but this book has plenty of humor to keep it interesting as well as useful. (Don’t tell me you’ve never read a useful book that was boring as a bare cement wall. Humor adds a lot even to how-to books!)
As a writer, Finding the Core of Your Story is a perfect jewel. After reading it I started a logline for my own story. It’s not finished, so I won’t show it to you (Oh come on, I don’t want to scare you away!), but I will say this – Jordan’s book is an incredible help in finding the core of your story. I highly recommend it to all the writers out there!