Do you struggle with creating messages that are both compelling and concise?

Then you need to take a quick trip to Hollywood to learn from the masters of instant appeal: movie studios.

Let's start where movies originate: screenwriting. Even if you have no interest in writing a screenplay, you can learn how to compose any message from this book: Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You'll Ever Need by the late Blake Snyder.

Snyder gives great advice on how to focus on the essence--of a movie or any message--of "what's it about."

Here's Mr. Snyder's take: "If what the movie is about isn't clear from the poster and the title, what are you going to say to describe it? If you can't tell me about the movie in one quick line, well, buddy, I'm on to something else. Until you have your pitch, and it grabs me, don't bother with the story."

"In Hollywood parlance it's called a logline or a one-line," Mr. Snyder writes. "A logline is like the cover of a book; a good one makes you want to open it, right now, to find out what's inside."

You may be writing tweets, not screenplays, but the idea of the logline (also known as a high concept) works just as well. You've only got 140 characters or the three seconds it takes to read an email subject line or the eight words a web headline should be. You're got to make those words count, and convey the essence simply, succinctly and in a very targeted way.

I love Save the Cat! and love the way Mr. Snyder characterizes a good logline: "You must be able to see a whole movie in it. Like Proust's Madeleine, a good logline, once said, blossoms in your brain. You see the movie, or at least the potential for it, and the mental images it creates offer the promise of more. One of my personal favorites is the producer David Permut's pitch for Blind Date: 'She's the perfect woman--until she has a drink.' I see it. I see a beautiful girl and a date one bad and a guy who wants to save it because . . . she's the one!"

Is your writing "blossoming in the brain?" If not, read the book.

 

Published on: Jan 28, 2016
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