Preparing to Pitch

Dev and I spent the day together working on our pitch for the upcoming Pitch Expo Toronto, working out a logline and a one-pager. Amazing how tiring it can be to write so bloody few sentences — and how hard it is to condense 30,000 words into about 30. Yoikes!

I spent a large part of the weekend looking for advice or suggestions on how to create the logline. There’s a fair bit out there, and of course some of it is contradictory, but in essence you want to boil your story down to 1 or 2 sentences, roughly 20 to 30 words. You’re not trying for the High Concept (that’s the “it’s like Jaws meets The Big Lebowski” line) or the tagline (“You’ll believe a man can fly…”).

The logline is intended to convey the dramatic story of your screenplay in as tight a manner as possible. You want to convey:
Who is your protagonist or hero?
What is the protagonist’s goal?
Who or what is the antagonist? (The force preventing the protagonist from achieving his goal.)

Simple, right?

Across my search, I found these resources:

* The Inside Pitch is a blog by Christopher Lockhart that seemingly is no more, but it had a good article on sample loglines and decent criticism.

* Christopher Lockhart also has this essay, “I Wrote a 120 Page Script But Can’t Write a Logline”

* This essay by Rob Tobin, “Make Your Log-line Shine,” is selling a course (which I always find a bit dodgy on the net, but whatever…), but had some good elements.

*This forum thread at Absolute Write had some good ideas, too.

* “Writing Longlines that Sell” by Jonathan Treisman.

* “Tips on Loglines” on Inktip.


Posted in Writing on September 3, 2007 by Jesse
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A Beautiful Thing

One of the biggest projects of the spring and summer has been working with Devinder Thiara on a feature length movie script (purely a spec script, you understand).

Right before GenCon, we typed “The End” on 122 pages of Western Horror. The first draft has been sent to a very small inner circle to get some fresh eyes on it, and give us a bit of distance before we burn through a quick 2nd draft. After that point we’ll probably be trying to get everyone we can to read it. 🙂

Other than game material, this was obviously the longest piece I’ve done collaboratively. It was a very interesting experience to see how we split the work (about perfectly 50/50), which characters we each felt more comfortable writing, which we never agreed on, and the different ways we approach pacing, drama, action, characterization, etc. Overall it was a real success, and I’m eager to start on another spec.

Now I just have to figure out how to register the damn thing before the Toronto Pitch Expo next week!


Posted in Writing on August 29, 2007 by Jesse
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HG100

hg100-scoble-ad.jpg

I was thrilled to be invited to contribute an essay to the upcoming Hobby Games: The 100 Best, published by Green Ronin. James Lowder wrangled 100 authors to each talk about one of their favorite games – whether roleplaying game, collectible card games, miniatures games, wargames, or board games – in what promises to be a very fun and historic collection. The authors list alone “blows my mind.”

Authors are luminaries from many gaming fields, from the grandfathers of the pen&paper and wargame industry to cutting edge computer game gurus. It’s a real honor to be counted among these folks, though I fully admit my contributions to the industry have been fairly minor. Among the list we’ve got legendary game designers: Gary Gygax (co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons), Ian Livingstone and (British) Steve Jackson (co-founders of Games Workshop), Richard Garfield (creator of Magic: The Gathering); best-selling authors: R. A. Salvatore, Tracy Hickman, Douglas Niles, and Ed Greenwood; computer industry notables Warren Spector (Deus Ex), Bruce Shelley (Age of Empires), Jack Emmert (City of Heroes), and Bruce Nesmith (Oblivion); and the usual suspects: Monte Cook, Zeb Cook, Greg Costikyan, (American) Steve Jackson, Christian T. Petersen, Jordan Weisman, Stewart Wieck, JD Wilker, and Skip Williams.

And a list of top-notch designers I’m always happy to drink with: Justin Achilli, Stan! Brown, Richard Dansky, Matt Forbeck, James Ernest, Kenneth Hite, Steve Kenson, John Kovalic, Steve Long, Mike Selinker, Zev Shlasinger, Jeff Tidball, George Vasilakos, James Wallis, and Erick Wujcik.

I can’t tell you yet what game I wrote about (hint: it’s *not* my favorite RPG of all time), but all will be revealed soon. Advance copies will be for sale at the Green Ronin booth at GenCon.

Hobby Games: The 100 Best info page.
(note the tabs at the bottom of the page and check out the Author List and the Editor Interview)


Posted in Games, Writing on August 12, 2007 by Jesse
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Sioux trackers to hunt Taliban

AN ELITE group of native American trackers is joining the hunt for terrorists crossing Afghanistan’s borders.

The unit, the Shadow Wolves, was recruited from several tribes, including the Navajo, Sioux, Lakota and Apache. It is being sent to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to pass on ancestral sign-reading skills to local border units.

In recent years, members of the Shadow Wolves have mainly tracked drug and people smugglers along the US border with Mexico.

But the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan and the American military’s failure to hunt down Osama Bin Laden – still at large on his 50th birthday yesterday – has prompted the Pentagon to requisition them.

I came across these guys while doing research on Shadows Of Mexico for White Wolf, Interesting to see them pop up again in relation to the War on Terror.


Posted in Current Events, Writing on March 15, 2007 by Jesse
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Ninja Chycks

The Knives of Artemis villain background for City of Heroes is going up this week. This was a fun piece to do, although it was a case of a sparse documentation (some days I have the other problem, and have way too much world info to wade through). I kept having visions of red-clad femme fatales, but also wanted to make them stand out a bit on their own.

I did a little bit of web research, and decided to play up the Artemis/Goddess of the Hunt angle a bit. And while I was mulling things over, a player (Tropic) sent me a link to his story on the cohwritersguild about the Knives. His story is called…actually, I have no idea what it’s called because the formatting on the guild is…rough…to be kind, but I think it’s called Recurrence. Anyway, while I haven’t read the entire thing, the first part was great. It certainly gave me some cool ideas on the Knives (and I subtly added his idea of the Oracle into my piece, though in a very very minor way).

And because I was a bit worried about having enough for a full feature, and because there are some very talented writers among the players, I posted an open call for “in character testimonials.” Basically I wanted people to write little stories – 1st person in-character, or 3rd person narrators were both fine – about how their characters had encountered the Knives of Artemis. I got something like 70 replies, and there were some great ones that I was able to incorporate into the extended content section.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading parts of Blackhawk Down, and I started thinking about the Delta boys. That led to some more net research, and I came across a great description of the training regimen used by some of the American Special Forces, and well, upped it a bit. It’s a comic book game, right? Full of larger than life actions!

I added it all together, and suddenly I had one of the longest pieces I’ve written for the CoH game features, and I’m quite thrilled by it. Of course, the real test is to see whether the players like it.

Knives of Artemis Villain Backgrounder.


Posted in CoH, Games, Writing on March 14, 2007 by Jesse
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Jesse Scoble

Jesse Scoble is a writer, story editor, and game designer in no particular order.

He has won awards, written a Western Horror script, worked on computer games & pen&paper games, contributed to more than 30 titles, and makes a mean mojito.

Currently he is a freelance writer in Montreal, QC.