An author tries to solve a mystery from inside the pitch of his own story.
My story’s pitch starts in the parking lot. The lot is empty apart from a lone convertible, a rusty old stepladder, and a thick layer of slush from last night’s snow.
The convertible is a classic, fully restored to its original mint green. Too bad someone thought to wheel it out in this nasty weather. The fenders are caked with black slush. There’s an awful mess in the interior. The windshield does little to hide the line of cocaine on the dashboard. There’s nothing but powder from the wheel to the glovebox. It looks like last night’s blizzard happened on the upholstery. A log sits on the passenger seat, too small for a support beam, too large for kindling. It leans forward. Its bark is nose deep in the fresh fallen blow.
I pace around the vehicle and wonder why the log was staged to look like it overdosed. This is the weirdest damn crime scene that I’ve ever seen. What business does a log have with such an epic line? Then it occurs to me. This is a terrible pun. It’s a “log-line.” Every pitch has got one.
A logline is the main idea sentence of a story’s pitch. It’s the bait that get’s the audience on the hook. I must have staged this mobile drug den to remind myself to lead with my logline. Continue reading The Memory Palace Mystery
This piece should do two things:
Help you summarize your story by identifying the elements that audiences look for.
Help you remember each of those elements with a simple memory trick.
The audio component isn’t a podcast, where I discover my statement halfway through making it. It isn’t spoken word poetry either. It’s a guided visualization, set to a beat. It’s fun to listen to, but I invite you to participate. To shape images from your work in progress and place them somewhere in your childhood home.
The memory palace technique takes something your brain has no problem remembering, like spacial relationships, and combines it with something that’s tough to remember, like plot points. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)
When you send your screenplay to a film producer, they send it to someone like me. I was a script reader, an intern chasing a carrot for an independent film studio.
My job was to summarize your magnum opus into a blurb. To condense your gut wrenching work into a column no larger than an obituary. To turn your hero’s journey into a stroll. To turn your feast for the imagination into an hors d’oeuvres. To take your epic and make it a limerick.
Have you ever tried to write a haiku? Ever try to right one with a three-act structure?
They gave me a pre-formatted template to write all of my coverages in. Much like a Tweet, I only had so many characters to summarize a stack of pages. I had to turn your screenplay into an elevator pitch, a talking trailer, a cinematic stanza. You know when someone says, “Just give me the cliff notes.” That was my job, to turn your rambling prose into a cliff note. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch
Writing a novel is like being in a relationship with a high maintenance person. Novels want all of your free time. They want the leading role in you day planner. They want you to take them everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re out with friends that you never get to see, your novel has something to say and you’re going to listen. Sneak your phone out and type a few paragraphs.
Your Novel looks at your short stories and says, “Who’s that then? They seem pretty cute? Is there something going on between the two of you that I should know about?”
Looking back on your relationship, your novel is never what you thought it was. The ruby colored glasses come off and you see all the edits you’re going to have to make, all the couple’s retreats and all the counseling. You will constantly doubt if it’s all worth it.
Then publishing your novel is like planing a wedding. First you have to find a place. Then they have to set a date. Then you have to send out the invites. It is work.
Like any relationship, writing a novel takes commitment.
This audio short is about what happens when you think you don’t have what it takes to see that commitment through. It’s my third piece to feature music. The first two were poems this is a fully realized short story. Enjoy!