Writing loglines is an essential skill for screenwriters, from early development through to the pitch. In this section, we review the loglines and short synopses of the screenplays that made it into the Blacklist 2012. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.
by The Judges
“After falling victim to a humiliating prank by the high school Queen Bee, best friends and world-class geeks, Mindy and Jodi, decide to get their revenge by uniting the outcasts of the school against her and her circle of friends.”
Steven Fernandez: Despite the lack of streamlining in the logline, the fundamental story concept ought to really work. As it incorporates the classic motifs of rebellion and misfits uniting to overthrow a tyranny.
“A more sympathetic description of the two girls would be far better. For example, “bookish intellectuals””
I do, however, question the use of the phrase “world-class geeks” here. As it creates a put down affect on the two protagonist girls. And so undermines reader empathy for them. A more sympathetic description of the two girls would be far better. For example, “bookish intellectuals”, or “shy wallflowers”, or “uber technophiles”, or “obsessive hobbyists”, or whatever.
Finally, the logline could do with a bit of sharpening. For example, instead of the clunky “against her and her circle of friends” at the end, the ‘closer’ could simply have been “against the in crowd”.
Cameron: What the logline has:
Protagonists the the audience can empathize with due to an Antagonist that has caused them “pain” in an inciting incident.
The goal of the story is established: to get revenge. Although that could be considered vague as the tone of the film could be taken the wrong way. Revenge could mean ‘murder’ or a ‘counter prank’. I’m assuming that it’s the latter but some could see otherwise.
Also giving the protagonists a flaw in the logline (something that will hinder their goal) would be an additional obstacle and conflict.
“A young woman, kidnapped when she was a kid, returns home to the family she barely remembers and struggles to feel ‘at home.’”
James Michael: Although the structure is all sound and most of the elements are all here, there’s something a bit off about this logline. Maybe its because it’s a little vague.
Firstly, although you have given us the protag, i think for a story like this she needs to have a flaw (having been kidnapped there’s an infinite choice of them. Obviously one thats suited to the idea of struggling to reconnect with the family would suit best).
“When this flaw is worked out, it will make it easier to give her a clearer goal”
When this flaw is worked out I think it will make it easier to give her a clearer goal. I think that a clear goal is the most important thing in a logline. It lets the reader know i) where the story is going and ii) what the genre will be. I think that just saying ‘struggles to feel at home’ isnt quite enough.
If there isnt a clear goal you could instead state what her main obstacle is instead. In this perhaps her flaw is making her family have a hard time accepting her and she has to over-come this before she can ‘re-join’ the family?
Steven Fernandez: While the basic story concept should work as a moving drama, the logline fails to sell the concept as it is too terse and a little dry. Instead, careful attention should have been paid to create a vivid and stark sense of what the young woman is going through. If the right words are chosen here, then the reader’s empathy of the woman can easily be ‘clinched’. For example, “A teenaged girl remains haunted by nightmares, and subject to volatile mood swings, when she returns to a family she hardly remembers. Her abduction since childhood leaves scars that will test both herself and her family.”
“While the basic story concept should work as a moving drama, the logline fails to sell the concept”
Secondly, a hint of some kind of external antagonist would help to make this set up more cinematic. Fortunately, not a lot extra needs to said to create the right impression. For example, “Then she must go to high school for the first time.” (I am assuming this is a personal drama, rather than a thriller, which is why I leave out the option of the abductor(s) returning to try to re-take the girl.)