Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with Jordan Smith: "What is Your Story About?"

Jordan Smith uses the the technique of a logline to help writers convey their story in one sentence. Writers market their stories/books better when they have this sentence ready for all inquirers in any venue.

Jordan Smith is a storyteller who is author of Finding the Core of Your Story and A Purple and Gold Afghan and other stories. He also works in film, and is the producer/director of the Month of the Novel web series.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Jordan Smith on writing, the logline technique, and his books.
TradeMark Remark: While camping what would Jordan Smith's role be?
      Packing the car. Why? Because he is good and getting a lot of stuff packed into a small area.
(As he does using the logline technique)

On your blog you mention being involved in the film realm. What is your role in film?
I’m an independent filmmaker. My passion is telling great stories in a visual medium, which usually shakes out to directing and producing my own projects. I’ve also consulted on several other filmmakers’ projects by reading scripts, giving advice, and helping with promotional efforts.

Is this your full-time job? If not, what is?
I wish! The problem with independent filmmaking is that it’s difficult to make it pay in the short run. I hope it will be my full-time job someday, but for now, I split my time between writing my books and doing customer service for a small homeschool publisher.

Who do you come in contact with in the film realm? (Directors, writer, actors, etc)
All of the above. I may not know the big names out there, but I’ve met people who work in Hollywood, and I’d think I’m involved with a lot of budding talent that may be successful in the future. I’ve been privileged to work with some people who are very, very good at what they do.

You mentioned that you have studied story theory in great depth.
Can you say more about that?
Sure. I’ve invested a lot of time in reading books about story theory, writing my own stories to see how the theory shakes out, and discussing that theory with other like-minded people. One of the most intensive things I do is time movies, which is a process where you make notes on what happens in the film down to the second. It’s tedious work, but it’s incredibly eye-opening and rewarding. You learn a lot about story structure.

Who do you think would benefit from your book Finding the Core of Your Story?
Anyone with a story to tell. I specifically state in the opening chapter that the methods in the book work for anything. Novels, movies, comic books, operas… I even once discovered that I unknowingly helped somebody use the book’s concepts on a poem. No matter what your story medium is, you need to tell people what your story is about, and you need to do it before they lose interest. You’ll need to catch their interest on Amazon, on your blog, at book signings, in Facebook ads, and anywhere else you can think of. Finding the Core of Your Story is geared toward helping any storyteller craft a single sentence that makes it simple to do all of those things with confidence.

Can you briefly describe your emphasis on using the "logline" as a tool?
Loglines are little known outside of filmmaking circles, but simply put, it’s a single-sentence story pitch. I learned about them from a filmmakers’ forum, but I quickly realized that the idea applies to more than just movies.

It’s incredibly valuable to get a story into just one sentence, and not just for the sake of marketing. When you look at your story in a logline, you see the core with none of the cruft. It helps you keep track of what’s important.

Your book Finding the Core of Your Story has received very positive reviews on Amazon. What feedback have you received from friends, family, and fans regarding it?
It’s been hugely positive. My friends and family have turned into logline advocates and are always asking me to take a look at their loglines when they think of new story ideas. I even had one author friend enlist my help to finesse her logline before a podcast interview. She had it pretty much figured out after reading my book, but it was fun to be asked to help make sure it was good.

What/who inspired you to write the story A Purple and Gold Afghan?
A Purple and Gold Afghan and other stories is a collection of very personal stories that come from the essence of my own experiences with falling in love. The stories are told from the point of view of a young man as he bumbles his way through figuring out how to handle all the new feelings and situations. While they aren’t based on any real events or people, I did draw heavily on how I felt during experiences of my own.
You are on the phone with a novice writer/storyteller who has aspirations to be a successful author. Your cellphone battery is going to die any second. What dire information would you try to feed to him/her?
One of my biggest pieces of advice for storytellers is to make sure the story feels right. Storytelling is the realm of emotion, so you really need to nail that. Technical know-how in writing is important, but you’re not going to grab anyone unless it resonates with them.

What do you think YOUR best asset is as a writer or storyteller?
As I alluded to in the last question, I am always working to make sure the story feels right. I find that my best asset is usually that. I can’t write something if I don’t know what the emotion is, and I think it shows through in my stories.

What are you currently working on?
All sorts of things! I always have a lot of irons in the fire. Right now, I’m most actively working on a book about my experiences in marketing my self-published books, and I’m also editing the second season of Month of the Novel, which is a web series based on National Novel Writing Month that I’m producing and directing.

You can follow Jordan Smith's blog here.

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