iUniverse presents tips for Screenwriting – Part I

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Screenwriting is an extremely appealing pursuit, both in financial terms and for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. iUniverse is delighted to help you along this road, with four separate pieces offering practical advice.


Indiana Jones — conceived of as “James Bond as an archaeologist”

Writing a screenplay is in many ways less challenging than writing a novel. Much fewer words are necessary, characters do not need such elaborate descriptions, and most of the action takes place through dialogue. At the same time, screenplays depend on the ability to compress the entire concept of your story into what is called a “logline”. The logline is an extremely concise description of your film which serves as a sort of summary of what the film will consist of.

Let’s have a look at some of the elements of a strong logline:

Uniqueness: there has to be something original, or at least containing a slight alteration of a common theme. A story about a policeman has been done before, but a story about a robotic policeman – i.e. Robocop – was new for its time.

Vivid mental picture: a good logline enables you to mentally picture what will happen in the film. The Indiana Jones series was envisioned as “James Bond as an archaeologist”. When reading this line, we already see the potential for action, adventure, and exoticism.

The logline is also called a “high-concept” pitch in film studies circles. Some other examples of loglines are:

Alien: “Jaws in space”. Alien essentially took the main theme of Jaws and transposed it to outer space. Galactic tales were very popular in the late 70s, with Star Wars, Moonraker, etc.

Jurassic Park: “Imagine if we could clone dinosaurs.” The subject of dinosaurs is particularly popular among American primary school students, and bringing them to life in a film was a perfect way to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

Snakes on a Plane: The title says it all!

In our next segment on screenwriting, iUniverse will discuss further characteristics of an effective screenplay. Until then, think about your favorite films and how to fit them into a “high concept” pitch.



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