Newspaper headlines are short, supposedly to-the-point statements that summarize what happened in an event. For example, “Chocolate cake and chemistry repair US-China ties. But will North Korea spoil the party?” They’re catchy, attention getters. Why would chocolate cake and chemistry repair US-China ties? How? Those questions make one want to read the story. Will North Korea spoil the party? Was North Korea invited to the party? Where was the party? When was the party? Why wasn’t I invited to the party? I like chocolate cake (sort of) and chemistry is interesting. Was the cake full of chemicals? Did the US drug the China delegates using chocolate cake? But the North Korea told China – hey, don’t eat that cake, it’s got friendly drugs in it?
The point I’m thinking of is – maybe scenes should have headlines. This isn’t quite the same thing as loglines and I’m not going to use it to pitch anything but maybe I could write some headlines just about what happens in a scene.
For example, the opening scene of Star Wars, A New Hope. Here’s the blurb for the movie from a quick Google search:
The Imperial Forces — under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) — hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.
So, everyone in the world has seen the movie (or should have). Here’s a video of the first scene. Really, you should see the entire movie.
Possible headlines for this scene.
IMPERIAL FORCES CATCH REBEL PRINCESS, STOLEN PLANS MISSING. [POV of Imperial forces]
PRINCESS ILLEGALLY TAKEN. PLANS NOT FOUND. [POV of Rebels]
So obviously that doesn’t tell us the entire story and it can be easily slanted to match whatever the writer’s subtle POV is. The mention of the plans is optional for both. Probably a really pro-Imperial writer wouldn’t list the missing plans because it is embarrassing. The pro-Rebel writer probably wouldn’t mention them because they’re a secret. Also, they don’t mention the setting – which is in space on spaceships.
But for my purposes, as I wouldn’t be sharing with anyone and as it is intended as a way to keep me focused on what the scene is about, I’d include details. Still short, but more details.
DROIDS ESCAPE CAPTURED REBEL SHIP WITH SECRET IMPERIAL PLANS. PRINCESS TAKEN.
This tells me there are rebels vs. imperials. They have ships. There are secret plans. And there’s important droids and a princess. I might add PRINCESS TAKEN BY DARTH VADER. if I wanted to include the villain.
Just some thoughts.