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
TITANS OF PARK ROW
“Young William Randolph Hearst goes to war against an ageing Joseph Pulitzer as each tries to monopolize coverage of a mysterious homicide capturing New York’s imagination, birthing the modern concept of sensationalist media coverage.”
– A unique story.
– Clear goal.
– Passive protagonist elements. The real story would be better perceived from the murderer’s P.O.V.
– High budget/period piece.
With a few more re-writes, the writer could have addressed the underlying story problems that face this from being a knockout of a logline/story. The real concern is having the protagonist(s) observe the real story that if not handled correctly could be its own downfall. Hopefully the focus is put on the sabotage of each individual and their respective media outlets.
Nicholasandrewhalls: I don’t know who or what the protagonist and antagonist is/are … I assume reporters or newspaper editors? The name “Pulitzer” should probably give me some indication, BUT … let’s assume that I am the producer you’ve just pitched the script to … am I expected to go and look it up on Wikipedia, learn about the real people and events, before I can decide whether I think your story is compelling enough to read?
“Am I expected to go and look it up on Wikipedia… Learn about the real people and events?”
Also … unless I am a history scholar, I have no personal connection with these characters yet, so AVOID using their names. With the excpetion of writing an entry into an existing franchise, stick with CHARACTER FLAW and then one other identifier (FATHER / REPORTER / DETECTIVE / MENTAL PATIENT).
“Goes to war” would probably work, if I knew the “world” in which these characters operated. Media … but specifically newspapers? Does one character specifically try to block the other character out of reporting the event?
“Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a teen documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.”
Cameron: The elements that work: clearly defined inciting incident, A protagonist in a contained setting with a clear goal which is also an impending dilemma – protect her sister and potentially infect others or give her up.
“A protagonist with a clear goal and dilemma – protect her sister and potentially infect others or give her up.”
What could help though, is to give the protagonist more of a description and give her a flaw which directly relates to her ability to form decisions based on the moral dilemma of protecting her sister. Maybe if the protagonist was naive, this naivety could be what gets the sister infected in the first place and it’s the naivety that the protagonist thinks she can protect her infected sister that puts others in danger.
– Strong visual event.
– Impending confrontation with close relationship.
– Doesn’t clearly specify use of found footage element.
– Lack of specific goal other than to survive.
The writer demonstrates an innate ability to deliver the story from their perspective but leads to a watered down logline that may cause issues with producers who are looking to check every element beforehand.
So what is your verdict? Would you want to see these films? Why (not)? Did the judges get it right? How would you improve the synopses/loglines and what do you feel might improve the stories behind them?
To read the full reviews and those from casual visitors, go to www.loglineit.com.