Because liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story.
I call it the “Save the Cat” scene. They don’t put it into movies anymore. And it’s basic. It’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something — like saving a cat — that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.
I want you to do something daring. I want you to forget all about your screenplay for now, the cool scenes that are bursting forth in your imagination, the soundtrack, and the stars you KNOW would be interested in being in it. Forget all that. And concentrate on writing one sentence. One line. Because if you can learn how to tell me “What is it?” better, faster, and with more creativity, you’ll keep me interested. And incidentally, by doing so before you start writing your script, you’ll make the story better, too.
In Hollywood parlance it’s called a logline or a one-line. And the difference between a good one and a bad one is simple. When I pick up the trades and read the logline of a spec or a pitch that’s sold and my first reaction is “Why didn’t I think of that?!”