Story Consultant Fernanda Rossi answered the following question for our DOC BC members in anticipation of the upcoming workshop LSD: Loglines, Synopses and Demos to take place in Vancouver, BC on February, 2nd.
Q: Should my trailer reveal the entire narrative arc of the story (where it’s headed) or focus only on the premise and characters?
Fernanda: The eternal dilemma of how much is too much and how little is too little. You’re spot on that you need to make sure the narrative arc is explicit, yet not fully developed till the end. If funders get closure and feel it works as a nice tidy short film, why would they give you money for a longer piece? They’ll pat you on the back, say thank you for sharing and wish you good luck.
Definitely introduce the premise right from the start as well as the characters, host/narrator, the character’s goals and some obstacles (if any). As per cliffhangers go, there are three techniques I found that works well to create some suspense: aposiopesis (literary term that means “unfinished action”), purpose (when the character establish an intention) and questioning (narrator or character question the very premise or status quo). I’ll discuss four opening techniques at the workshop. For now I hope these tips walk you through the bare essentials!
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