Warmup exercise: Interview
Answer the following questions based on what you wrote for your rough draft.
- What is your version of Motherless Brooklyn about?
- What are some challenges in adapting this novel into a film?
- Why do you think Lionel is such a compelling character?
- What’s one thing you hope people will take away from your film version of Motherless Brooklyn?
Task one: Log line
This seems to be a good moment to consider your main idea more.
For your first draft, I asked you to pick an aspect of the novel from the list on the instructions to write about.
For your final draft, you’ll have to figure out what you would like to say about this aspect.
Your main idea should be as precise as possible.
You want to think about the main thread that runs through your entire piece.
- Reread your piece. Underline any sentences that you think could be expanded upon to become the main idea of your piece.
2. Then, read “How to Write the Perfect Logline.”
3. Write the following information:
- The protagonist (don’t use their names, just description — for example ‘An alcoholic surgeon…’). Think of the most accurate way to describe Lionel according to your draft. You don’t have to say “A Tourettic Detective”.
- The goal of the protagonist (this is usually in line with your 2nd act turning point — ‘An alcoholic surgeon must fight for his job…’). Think of his emotional goals. You don’t need to say “A Tourettic detective must find out who killed his boss…”
- The antagonist (and the obstacle of the antagonist — ‘An alcoholic surgeon must fight for his job after a disgruntled patient accuses him of malpractice…’). In this novel, the main antagonist, I think, is something within Lionel himself.
4. Then, try fitting this information into this structure:
When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES].
5. Ask 4 questions about the story of [the novel] starting from the end and working your way to the beginning.
When I came across this method, the example of “Back To The Future” was used, so I’ll reference it here verbatim. Here are the questions that were asked and their subsequent answers:
- How can Marty come back from the past? (He has to reunite his parents)
- Why did he have to reunite his parents? (Because he has changed the past which drove them apart)
- Why did he change the past? (Because he accidently distracted his mother from noticing and falling in love with his father)
- Why did he find himself in the past? (To save his skin using the invention of a crazy scientist)
6. Now that you have your answers you can construct a rudimentary outline of what will eventually become your log line:
“A young man, to save his skin, hides in the past thanks to the invention of a crazy scientist. He meets his future parents and accidently distracts his mother from noticing and falling in love with his father. So he is forced to bring them together or he will cease to exist.”
7. Now, make it less clunky and more focused, leaving us with something like this:
“A young man is transported to the past where he must reunite his parents before he and his future are no more.”
8. Don’t forget the aspect of the novel you’re discussing! Rewrite the log line so that that aspect is included.
Task Two: Forget about the logline
Maybe the logline thing was helpful, maybe not.
Look at the final logline that you wrote in Task One.
Rewrite 5 different versions of it, trying to make it more precise and more specific to your paper as possible with each different version. Each version can be slightly different (by changing a word or two), or completely different (by completely rewriting it).
Task three: evidence
You want to make sure you’re using evidence from as many different parts of the novel as possible. Many people could stand to add in more varied evidence.
- Make a list of the page numbers where your citations come from. Are you leaning too heavily on one or two parts of the novel?
- If so, look for new pieces of evidence from parts of the novel that you haven’t considered. Note some ideas of passages you might use here.
Task four: context
Using citations is not just a matter of cherrypicking a few quotes from different parts of the novel. You have to really consider the context of what’s going on.
- For each quote that you used, reread the entire scene in which it takes place. If the scene is really long, read at least one page before and one page after each citation you use.
- Do you have any new ideas after rereading the scene? If so, list them here.
When you’re done, post what you did in the “October 6 Lab” category.