One of my favorite parts of the whole coverage process is writing that one-sentence premise: trying to boil down exactly who and what the writer has been going on about for the last 90-120 pages.

Early on I figured out the basic rule. Who's the protagonist? That's the subject of your sentence. What does he spend the movie doing/figuring out/choosing between? That's the verb. Frequently I get scripts with old coverage attached. And it surprises me how many times the last coverage writer got this wrong. Dead wrong. Really, really stupidly wrong -- dropping the protagonist off into a prepositional phrase and featuring some supporting character as the subject.

Yesterday my brother -- who went to the University of Chicago and attended their famous Little Red Schoolhouse writing classes -- informed me that the number one rule of good argument writing was exactly this. The subject of your story/argument/paragraph is the subject of your first sentence. What he/she/it does is the verb.

Wa-hoo. And I didn't even have to move to Chicago to learn this.

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