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Try This!

By on October 13, 2008 in About the Beats, Today's Blog

Fresh from our busy Save the Cat! Laboratories, Development Director Jose Silerio has conceived this new twist on how to write a logline. By plugging in the components of your movie’s BS2 into the “Format” below you can create a “mini-story” that will help not only organize your logline, but better focus you when you start breaking out that logline into a script.

The example below shows how the components of Cat! fave Miss Congeniality fit into this template. We welcome any feedback to let us know if this helps! Have a great writing week everyone. And remember, good communication starts with a good poster — what’s yours? 

Format:

On the verge of a Stasis=Death moment, a flawed protagonist has a Catalyst and Breaks Into Two with the B Story; but when the Midpoint happens, he/she must learn the Theme Stated, before the All Is Lost, to defeat (or stop) the flawed antagonist (from getting away with his/her plan).

Example:

On the verge of another “suit and tie” assignment, a tomboy FBI agent is assigned to go undercover in the American Miss Pageant and has a complete makeover to blend in with the other contestants; but when the pageant receives a new threat, she must learn she can be a woman and tough, before she gets thrown off the case, to defeat the warped pageant organizer bent on revenge(Miss Congeniality)

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About the Author

About the Author: Read about Blake here. .

There Are 18 Comments

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  1. Martin Blank says:

    Blake,

    To you and Jose — pure genius…as I’m doing a BS2 now!

    With thanks,
    Martin

  2. David Schultz says:

    Blake,

    This is very helpful. One question: does the protagonist really learn the Theme Stated BEFORE the All Is Lost? I thought that lesson happens during Act Three.

    Thanks,
    David

  3. Blake says:

    David, many times there will be a “moment of clarity” in the Dark Night of the Soul where the hero has a glimpse of what this trip has been about. This is more of a guide to plug in elements from your beat sheet to tell what I think becomes a very rich story in one sentence! As is true with all the Save the Cat! tools — your mileage may vary! If it suits your story better to put a beat in another part of this sentence, please do! And let us know how it works for you!

  4. Timothy Fish says:

    I just finished a book that should be available this soon, so I feel comfortable saying that mine looks like this:

    On the verge of [spending life with a former prostitute wife who does not love him] a [cardigan wearing English teacher] learns [she has left him for another man] and [he struggles to understand why] with a [favored student], but when [he and his wife celebrate their anniversary together] he must learn [the true meaning of unconditional love] before [her “Madam” grandmother sells her as a slave] to prevent [his wife from slipping through death’s door.] — “For the Love of a Devil”

    It doesn’t come across as smooth as I would like. The story is a modern retelling of Hosea and there is a lot happening that seems to flow well in the book, but here…not so much. The following seems to work better:

    On the verge of spending life with a former prostitute wife who does not love him a cardigan wearing English teacher learns she has left him for another man and struggles to understand why as she moves from man to man before returning to work for her grandmother’s escort service, but when her “Madam” grandmother sells her as a slave he must go into her dark world to keep his wife’s chosen lifestyle from killing her. — “For the Love of a Devil”

    There still might be room for improvement, but I ended up taking out some of the Beats listed in the format.

  5. shadeofla says:

    Blake, I read somewhere (maybe it was your book…or the Bible…same difference) that it helps to insert an adjective about the protagonist at the beginning with the implication that this adjective will be reversed by the end of the movie.

    For example,

    When a NEGLECTFUL father learns he must lead his son’s preschool…

    When an ARROGANT attorney is given the case of a lifetime…

    When a SELFISH rabbi walks into a bar…

    true?

  6. Sarah Beach says:

    Well, that is all neat and tidy! And I think I needed it — the script I’m working on started changing its nature when I began writing. I’m stuck in the middle and wasn’t quite sure what I needed to get the focus back (on what the story is becoming). This helps A LOT!!!

  7. jeff paterson says:

    Hey, cool new formula.

    Is there a word/sentence limit on a log-line? The Miss C. one looks long, but really is only 69 words.

  8. Rob M says:

    Nice work on this one.

    It also really helps when you know this like the back of your hand so when the person across the table wants to hear more you can add a few sentences to each section especially the fun stuff between bstory and midpoint.

  9. Jenn C says:

    This is great….! I have so much trouble getting my log line information in the right order with the right information. I am never satisfied with it even with great suggestions.

    So glad to have read about this little ‘secret’. This is extremely helpful.

  10. alex_s says:

    It is a good one indeed, but in my opinion it has even a bigger advantage than just being a template for the actual logline. First of all, It’s a valuable tool for testing our ideas. It superbly fulfils the first function of the logline Blake was writing in the first STC! — to make sure that your idea has all the arms and legs before you write page one. It’s good to test our stories by squeezing them into that template just to see if everything is in order. If it doesn’t fit… well, perhaps we need to rethink the plot/structure or even… let the idea go.

    Blake, despite that you’re probably going to use it in your new book, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include it also in the STC 1 if there is another, revised edition one day.

    Cheers!

  11. Art Flato says:

    So timely. I was once told if it doesn’t COMMUNICATE in one page (BS2) :-(–< it most certainly will not in 110. The logline acts as an AFFIRMATION – stuck on our foreheads third eye to channel our core story throughout our writing process. So EASY to drift off course as we attempt to FINISH our dreams. As much as I have found PATIENCE to be a valuable tool, I am biting at the bit to write and finish this. LOVE the quote by Ben Franklin. When asked what he’d do if he had twelve (12) hours to cut down a tree, he SIMPLY replied, “I’d spend eleven (11) hours sharpening my axe!” Rewriting the logline over and over again is worth it’s wait in GOLD – even after numerous BS2 and 40’s. Mercury goes DIRECT today! Yahoo!! Thank you for sharing. On Your Path, Art Cat 🙂

  12. Bradford Richardson says:

    I absolutely LOVE this!

  13. shanelaporte says:

    What a great tool! Thanks!

  14. Ben Coulter says:

    Blakes A legend and shadeofla is right, it is the Bible!!
    I can’t watch a single movie without pausing it to point out the beats to my annoyed girlfriend now!! haha.

  15. Will says:

    How would this work with multiple storylines? (like Magnolia)

  16. Daniel Kirk says:

    Blake,

    I just plugged this structure into the log line for a long lost/abandoned project, tweaked it to make the logline better and then reverse-engineered the old beat sheet to fit the new logline, and…

    GENIUS!

    Thank you SO MUCH for this, and pass my thanks along to Jose!

  17. Daniel Kirk says:

    So let me try my hand at this:

    On the verge of nervous breakdown, a war veteran cameraman is assigned to film a drug bust with local police; but when the lowlifes of Orion Street turn out to be anything but normal, he must learn to be just as unpredictable as they are before they can secure their hold on the neighborhood, to defeat the inhuman menace bent on seizing control not just of one street, or even one city, but of the entire world.

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