Posted on Posted in Screenwriting Tips

Occasionally, I observe and conclude that if most people well understood or were even interested in the English topic, Clauses, they’d ask and answer their own questions in just one sentence before anyone got the chance to ask about log-lines.

Don’t panic. I’m not here to teach clauses. I’m here to identify some for you, but not so that you can learn—well, maybe for that “wow” effect. Suffice it to say I’m here to show you how very good writers that I have noticed tell their stories. They use clauses, for a kind of cause-and-effect effect. The same way mathematicians say “If this, then that” in solving their equations.

Sometimes we use them without realizing it, but most times in a cliched and Nigerian cultured way.

I recall a couple of these examples:

[If not that] I had already forgiven you, I would have reported this case.
[For the mere fact that] I’m older than you, you should respect me.
[Not until] you apologize to me, I will report this case.

The truth is, these aren’t even standard forms, but I accept all expressions as long as they can be used to communicate (informally).

They even sound like the words of our “learned” disciplinarians or trouble-makers, right? Almost like what lawyers like to use when they feel like scaring you to death. But why must we use clauses as a conditional warning all the time? This, my people, is the reason Nigerians find it extremely difficult to understand the topic, Clauses, in school, and from my experience teaching English, people are bemused when you start a sentence with a clause, or even situate it in the middle of a sentence. You have them totally lost!

I’d prefer these more appropriate expressions, though:

[If] I hadn’t already forgiven you, I would have reported this case.
[Because] I’m older than you, you should respect me.
[Until] you apologize to me, I will report this case.

Like arithmetical logic, you can clearly see what makes the first part of these sentences clauses: “if”, “because”, and “until”. They are called subordinate conjunctions, and there are a bunch of them in existence for you. Check HERE for a list of some and try hard to use them always. They are easy to use. Just have two related sentences: one that’s a cause, and the other that’s an effect of the cause, join them together with a conjunction, and voila! You can even choose which one you want to bear the burden of holding the conjunction.

For example:

Sentence 1: I’m older than you (cause/if this)
Sentence 2: You should respect me. (effect/ then that)
Subordinating Conjunction: because

New sentence: Because I’m older than you, you should respect me.
New sentence: You should respect me, because I’m older than you.

Or for a weirder atmosphere:

New sentence: I’m older than you, because you should respect me.😂
New sentence: Because you should respect me, I’m older than you.😂
(Please don’t do this😂)

Isn’t that exciting?!
Now, I’ve just made you sit in a Clause class.

Congratulations! You did it! You made log-lines.

[So that] you’re not too bewildered when you see that movie summary, let’s take a look at some that I have formed with clauses.

-[When] the forces of evil inhabit a blind widow’s house, she has to learn to read the only working binding spells in a spell book she can’t even see.
– [Until] all the rats in the country are captured and destroyed, the citizens of a western African country will have to avoid eating with their bare hands.
– [Unless] he retrieves all the shattered diamonds from the bottom of the ocean, this trainee cannot go back to his master’s house.😐

You can notice the clauses and the subordinate conjunctions these log-lines bear.

Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.

She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.

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