In this post I share with you three other elements that are included in the proposal of a screenplay.
In Save The Cat (see my previous post) Blake Snyder mentions ten types of genres. He cautions about staying away from “standard genre types such as Romantic Comedy, Epic or Biography- because those names don’t really tell me anything about what the story is.”
As a standard genre my story is romantic drama, but in following Snyder’s advice my genre falls under the Rites of Passage type. “These are tales of pain and torment , but usually from an outside force; Life.” Movies that Snyder classifies under this type include stories about puberty, mid-life crisis, old age, romantic break-up, and grieving stories.
Although my series takes place in part in India, Italy and Boston I have omitted these scenes from the screenplay. I do mention the character going to India but I only speak of her impressions upon her return. Similarly, I do not have the character go to Boston or Italy. The reason for doing this is that film producers are money minded. Having the crew travel to film a scene ups the costs which might make a producer reject the screenplay.
So my settings are: A women’s center in a middle-class area of a city. Bars and pubs, restaurants. The characters’ apartments. Conference hall. Art Gallery. Inside taxi cab. Backyard garden. Museum. Gym. Office. Golf Course. Library. Construction site of a donut shop. Inside a car.
These are easily filmed on set or at least in the city where the film is being made.
This is the synopsis of the story. One thing I was told to keep in mind, is that the agents/producers/directors are busy people and don’t have time to read through pages of what your film or series is about. What they will be more interested in is the script itself which I will talk about in another post.
The concept is the heart of the proposal and includes:
An introduction to the idea of your story along with main emotions and theme. Here you can include one sentence story examples.
A paragraph which outlines the story in each episode – its beginning and ending.
Visual Elements that are in the story. Is it entertainment, an interview, narration, animation. Is there a host?
Finally, clarity and brevity is key.
Please note that I will not be as active on Social Media for the next while as my family is preparing a funeral for my brother-in-law and in the weeks that follow I will be involved in helping care of my sister, who is eighty, and will need support as she begins her grieving process.
My intention here is certainly not to write a review of the book. The guy’s got almost 5,000 ratings, 80% of them 5 stars.
But before I tell you why I am writing about Save the Cat, let me let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and explain the title in Blake’s words:
Save the Cat is the screenwriting rule that says… it’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something -like saving a cat – that defines who he is and make us, the audience, like him.
Further in the book, Blake explains his test marketing method:
I pitch to anyone who will stand still. I do it in line at Starbucks. I do it with friends and strangers. I always spill my guts when it comes to discussing what I’m working on, because:
I have no fear that anyone will steal my idea (and anyone who has that fear is an amateur and…
You find out more about your script by talking to people.
I talk to “civilians’”
Which brings me to THANK ALL OF YOU who provided me with comments, suggestions and encouragements regarding my logline (see previous post).
One comment was that the absent father may not be the best term to use. For an indebt comment on my logline you may want to read the comments posted by PRIOR.
Perhaps abandoned fathers might be a better term.
If you’re interested in writing a screenplay you might consider having a look at this book.
One last word. I am aware that taking on this project and especially talking about it places me in a vulnerable position. What if I fail (and the chances, considering my zero contacts with the business) are quite high.
I will continue to work on my logline and will also write about the other aspects of screenwriting which are the concept, the characters, genre, the setting, and the all intimidating screenwriting software which I am in the process of learning.
If anything, all this gives me material to post on my blog. 😉
A few weeks ago I completed a twelve hour course on Creating A TV Series Proposal given by Jennifer McAuley sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.
One of the features of writing a proposal for TV is to have a GREAT logline. It’s one to three sentences that grabs the agent, producer, director, audience attention to your story. It is precise and gets to the point of your story.
Here’s my logline for my TV script (which might change as I go along writing the script) but for now here it is:
According to Keri Novak’s PhD study group, women who have had absent fathers grow up assuming that they are doomed to unsuccessful relationships with men. That is, until Keri meets her own Prince Charming putting her research and the award she is about to receive in jeopardy.
Finally, I have my e-books into paperback and it was a frustrating journey. First, the technical designer I hired didn’t work out after three months of back and forth with her. Then, the second technical consultant wasn’t able to put two of my e-books into paperback either because the one of the original e-book cover no longer existed or the owner of the other e-book was asking an exorbitant amount of money to use it. Then, there was the problem of Kindle’s size requirements, which luckily my technical consultant was able to deal with.
In the end, I ended up having to choose different covers for two of my paperbacks. So, three months later, here are my paperback novels.
About the Getting to Mr. Right Series
The series starts off by focusing on Campbell Jones –an award-winning relationship-therapist at the peak of her career. Friendship and support shared between the characters of Campbell’s focus group evolves as the novel progresses.
The underlying theme throughout the original Getting to Mr. Right and the four novellas which follow is “being true to oneself.” The novellas are all expansions of the main story – dating adventures for Missi, a café for Suzy, dealing with an uprooted life for Felicity and an unexpected pregnancy on the edge of mid-life for Campbell. The series has gone beyond the original premise of “Getting a man” and in true women’s fiction style, deals with the issues that come after “happily ever after.” Although all these women are now in romantic relationships, it’s more the by-product of living their lives fully than a pursuit for finding a partner.
Campbell’s research into the father/daughter dynamic and how it affects a woman’s personal choices proves that Prince Charming is nothing but a myth. In a few months, she will receive international recognition for her work.As part of her study, Campbell gives workshops to help women still seeking Mr. Right. Her latest group is made up of three women: Missi Morgan, who can’t seem to let go of a philandering spouse; Suzy Paradise, a self-proclaimed queen of online dating; and Felicity Starr, whose life and career are dictated by a controlling father.In the midst of her study, a charming and personable man enters Campbell’s life, putting her theories in shambles. Not only does she now question the validity of her research, but she must choose between her career and having her own Prince Charming. This personal dilemma makes it difficult for Campbell to give these women advice, as she encourages them to find their own paths to happiness and helps them set themselves free.
Missi Morgan is your everyday middle-aged woman who is suddenly thrust into an online dating world after years of married bliss. After learning to let go of Max, her husband who dumped her, Missi explores the world of online dating. Through one disastrous date after another, Missi learns lessons that help her discover what she truly wants. She may not find the perfect match but she finds the perfect self.
A romantic comedy for anybody having to tackle online dating and letting go.
Book 3: Not By Design
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes. Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths. Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.
Most of Suzy Paradise’s dreams died along with her son over twenty years ago. One thing has re-ignited her passion for living – running her own café, which specializes in home-baked donuts. For Suzy, this is a long-cherished dream come true. Her business is starting to flounder when Donuts-A-Million, a giant chain, opens across the street from her. Her unexpected attraction to Coen Walsh, a regular customer at her café, creates more tension when she learns of his affiliation with her competitor. Café Paradise is about Suzy’s fight to save her business in spite of the odds. Sometimes, she realizes, dreams have an expiration date and it takes just as much courage to let them go. Along the way, she must re-define the meaning of work, family and romance so she can find her own formula for happiness.
In Getting to Mr. Right, Campbell debunked the Prince Charming myth, only to meet a special man who turned all her assumptions upside down. Now she’s married to Chand. But Happily-Ever-After turns out to be another illusion. Campbell deals with job burnout and struggles to find her place in the world. An unexpected pregnancy and its complications undermine her relationship with Chand and take her to a difficult crossroad. No matter which way she decides to go, nothing will ever be the same!
A psychological crime novel about obsession. Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her savior from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together? Detective Van Ray is on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection. Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological crime novel about human frailty and loneliness.
Mourning Has Broken offers a moving and poignant look at grief and loss. In this collection of narrative non-fiction essays, the author speaks from the heart not only about the death of a dear sister but also about the mourning of a mother, a father, a dear friend, a career and a religion. Readers who have known loss will find much to relate to in this book, and will particularly appreciate the author’s ability to be frank and open and at times humorous about feelings that might be difficult to acknowledge.
Two things have been happening since my last blog post eons ago.
Moving is much like doing a major spring cleaning of every room in your house. Every nook and cranny and every spec of dust. In a way, it was very liberating and made me practice minimalism. It struck me as incredible and depressing to see how much stuff I’d accumulated throughout the years.
I moved into a smaller apartment and so I needed to downsize and trim my possessions. I still haven’t been able to let go of a small beige colored handbag which I haven’t used in years but it used to belong to my mother. What am I holding unto?
And then there was the move itself during Montreal’s heaviest snowstorm of the season!
The second reason why I haven’t been posting on my blog is that I had nothing to say.
Then, I received an e-mail from Thelma Mariano, the editor of my women’s fiction novels:
Thelma was recently interviewed by Duke Diercks where, along with 12 other editors, was asked this question:
What is the #1 mistake that you see first-time authors make?
Here’s part of her answer:
Most first-time novelists underestimate the amount of work required to bring their completed draft to a publishable level. This leads to what I believe is the #1 problem with early manuscripts: a lack of story tension.
If we lack a “story-worthy” problem, something strong enough to pull a reader through hundreds of pages, needing to know what happens next, no amount of editing will make it better.
As writers and artists we are often asked where our ideas come from. The answer is complex and usually never just from one place. Take for example, Felicity in my latest Getting to Mr. Right series. What made me choose to have her interested in fashion rather than music, sports or photography – all interests of mine?
The answer lies in part, I think, with my mother and her love of fashion. Whenever she watched television she commented on what the women were wearing, just as after an outing she would give a critical expose on how the women were dressed. In the last years of her life I would visit her and we would watch together What Not To Wear, a show I haven’t watched since her death seven years ago.
One of her favorite movie actresses was Audrey Hepburn, especially the role she played as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I suspect what my mother loved about the movie was not the gangster/call girl plot of the film. Nor Holly’s capacity, in her femme fatale manner, to seduce the men in her life in order to get what she wants. Nor was it the script’s chick-lit style of presenting Holly as an independent woman, unafraid of thwarting feminine customs. What made my mother love Breakfast at Tiffany’s was most likely Ms. Hepburn’s wardrobe.
My mother’s own style was more of the sensible cardigan and slacks (who uses that word these days?) as she puttered around the house. But on those rare occasions when she dressed up she was meticulous about what she wore adding a string of pearls around a plain dress which, in the imagination of my memory, she might as well have been wearing the sheath black dress or double breasted orange wool coat which Ms. Hepburn wore in the movie.
In Truman Capote’s novella, Holly Golightly (don’t you just love this name?) “… was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so. One might have thought her a photographer’s model, perhaps a young actress.”
Along with my mother’s influence and my love for the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s I was likely subliminally drawn to creating a character who is involved in the world of fashion.
In this scene Felicity, is with Eduardo, a gallery owner:
This is the second time in less than twenty-four hours that I have been asked if I love Marco. “Absolutely? Can we ever be absolute about our feelings?” I say aware that I’m avoiding answering his question.
“Enough about your love life,” he says almost impatiently. “Tell me about your art project. How you combine it with fashion.”
As he sits beside me, I tell Eduardo about the project with Tina and show him pictures from my cell. “They’re painted graffiti jeans. It’s a lot of fun to do.”
“These are incredible,” he says. “Do they make these jeans in my size?”
Eduardo is a hefty man and I really can’t see him in a pair of these jeans, even though many of them are made wide and loose. Still, I say, “I’ll make sure to get you a pair. Which design do you prefer?”
He chooses a dark indigo jean with designs inspired by Miro on the legs and back pocket. I feel myself beaming. It’s wonderful getting recognized for my work.
Many of you took the time to comment positively about the cover and with all my heart – THANK YOU!
In the midst of this ego boost I received an e-mail from Debby at D.G.Kaye who offered a different opinion, pointing out that my cover, although appealing, did not “go with” my brand.
The photo doesn’t give me an immediate feel for what the book is about. And the title should be in stronger font and stand out more, like your other books. Maybe like your Finding Mr. Right book, so it stands out and follows the branding of the previous book?
I literary struggled with the decision to change the cover of my book. At first I tried to take the easy way out and just go ahead with the status quo. Also because so many of you wrote such lovely comments about the cover I didn’t want to take the risk of offending you by changing it. Besides, I too liked the cover.
I admire Debby’s work and that she has read all my previous books in my Getting To Mr. Right Series added clout to her critique. Plus, there was this annoying tiny voice nudging me to pay attention.
As these things so often happen, Jenny Nash’s weekly postwas on getting advice. An interesting article worth reading, as Jenny’s articles are, but what particularly stuck with me were these words:
Most important of all, don’t lose sight of your own heart. When you get advice, weigh it against what you think. Does it ring true to you? Does it strike a nerve? Can you see how incorporating it will make your work more clear, more logical, and more whole? If yes, then by all means, take the advice.
Debby’s advice did strike a nerve that I couldn’t ignore, especially what she said about branding.
What did I know about branding except nothing. Then, I came across a tutorial on branding which you can find here.
If I was to be honest with myself I had to admit that my current cover, as eye-catching as it was, was not the right fit for my Getting To Mr. Right series. It just didn’t go with the other covers. Something I should have thought about beforehand. But honestly, I hadn’t at all considered branding.
As hard as it was for me to let go of the “old” cover, I had to do it.
The cover I’ve ended up choosing is more faithful to the character’s spirit and, hopefully, more in tune with the other books in this series.
In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’snot by design.