Now you have your title, now you have claimed ownership of the story. And who knows your title may already be loaded with themes.
But I'm personally never done naming things. So today's assignment is a little harder.
1. you are going to start naming your protagonist and your antagonist in this story. Because the story is ultimately about your characters. (No, my story is about this an affair gone wrong, or this murder, or this building that gets taken over by a terrorist, who demands the release of government prisoners but it's really there to rob the company, you might say.) But that is short sighted and boring, no your story is about the people in these situations.
Names are very important to me. My favorite name, in any story I've ever read or seen is Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Just think of that name, the roots of the words. Clarice - to make clear, Star - she is that at the FBI, but Starling sounds illuminating and reflective. The name of your character can send a subconscious signal to the brain about whether they are good or bad, hero of villain.
"you are one brave kid, Rebecca," Says Ripley (in Aliens) to that little girl and what does the child whisper. "Newt."
I mean, I can see Sigourney Weaver wanting to save Rebecca, no problem! If Becky died half way through, "oh wow, did you see that? James Cameron totally offed Becky"... but it would be unforgivable in the story if Ripley didn't go go to hell and back to save fucking NEWT. Because newts are adorable and fragile creatures that must be protected.
Names matter, names tell a story, you will ponder your character names today as you prepare to write down your outline. Start thinking of your characters today. You won't need them quite yet. But you will soon.
TODAY'S PAPER HOMEWORK IS.
This will also change, a plenty, but I want you to be able to explain what this movie is about in about 20 to 30 words. Distilling your idea to 20 to 30 words is going to be crazy.
But Mozz, that's impossible. Is it really?
"The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son."
I really don't want you to write the LOGLINE that will sell the movie to studios, that will come later in sales and packaging. I want you to write the LOGLINE that resonates with writer you. That sells the movie TO you.
When I was an actor, my teacher Erma Duricko, would always say to me, "Find your througline, your main objective, and you marry it and all the choices you make, will be more interesting and more truthful because you have kerneled out the truth."
I call it LOGLINE because 1. It is the technical term. 2. It reminds me that someday after many drafts I hope to sell this mother fucker and thinking of getting money for doing what I love makes me feel good.
So work on the LOGLINE today:
The logline will include
ADJECTIVE + THE HERO (don't use the names yet, We are not world building yet. so save it)
ADJECTIVE + ANTAGONIST (see note above.)
A really fucking compelling goal. What is the main struggle, challenge, desire, want, must get in the film.
"A headstrong NYC cop arrives in LA to win his self-reliant estranged wife back, but her - state of the art building - is taken over by an ingenious terrorist ."
You have a headstrong vs. ingenious -- which will win out brain or brawn. But in the twist, headstrong starts thinking like the terrorist, becoming ingenious and brawny in the journey. There is a twist in the description, ha!
You have the obvious visual associations of NYC vs. LA.
You have a fantastic stage. so fucking good. it's state of the art.
And I wish i could do more with the wife. Maybe you can fix that for Die Hard. But Holly Gennaro, oh my god, Feast of St. Gennaro. Holly as in have a Holly Jolly Christmas. She is CHRISTMAS and must be saved, which is why DIE HARD IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER MADE!
Down the line, once your first draft is done, you will find that your sales LOGLINE will either stay the same or become an even shorter, more specific version of what you started out with.
For Today though. I want you to sell the movie to YOURSELF.
I WILL REPEAT THIS.
DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE. THE FIRST RULE OF MAGIC IS SELF-CONTAINMENT.
However, revisit it, every day before you start writing. It will change, it will grow, it will tighten, it will become more specific.