Writing loglines is an essential skill for screenwriters, from early development through to the pitch. In this section, every week our panel reviews a few loglines posted to www.logline.it. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.
by The Judges
“Jordan Rhodes is an honest detective investigating the heinous murder of a leading talent agent. As he delves into a melting pot of beauty, ego and violence, the stakes are raised when the killer distributes horrific crime-scene photographs to the press, thrusting a reluctant Jordan into the spotlight in a city where everybody wants to be famous.”
The judges’ verdict:
Phyllis: “This premise has promise. Reluctant celebrities in this age of FAME? Really? Interested to see how this character will be drawn. And I have a question… is this story based on the recent murder of a real-life female Hollywood publicist? Truth is definitely stranger than you know what… Good, solid concept here”
Interested to see how this character will be drawn.
Steven: “It sets up a nice protagonist versus his environment conflict. The protagonist being the only one in his town who is unassuming and not out to be a celebrity, despite the fact that he lives and works in a fame-obsessed city. That works at a deep level. In this sense the killer/villain could work as the protagonist’s shadow, as the killer is clearly desirous of causing a sensation (in contrast to the hero’s low-key nature). There is even a suggestion here of the hero having to make a personal transformation to catch and defeat the villain”
It sets up a nice protagonist versus his environment conflict
James: Apart from the length this is a solid effort. It gives us a protagonist. He has a flaw that contrasts nicely with the world that he lives in. It has the inciting incident, one which conflicts with his flaw (honesty). My main complaint is this logline falls into the classic problem of over-description. ‘A melting pot of beauty, ego, violence…etc’ This isn’t really needed. It may help to create the world but more could be done with these words. He has his goal, now what are his stakes and is there any urgency behind them? If this can be added in than we will have a much better logline.”
A Perfect Story
“Bella from the Planet Kabbalore is caught up in a civil war on the planet Delta 5. After a request from Delta 5’s Governor Zelack, the President of the New Commonwealth sends a rescue party, consisting of NSPA Agents and Commonwealth Search and Rescue teams. Their ship is attacked and the party crash lands and are left for dead on a planet which is occupied by intelligent undead and enemy soldiers”
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: “The viable story thread here is one of interstellar law agents having their ship attacked and forced to crash land on some primitive or hostile planet. A planet well removed from civilised space. Forget the zoombies and definitely the first two sentences of this logline are clunky and turgid. Call them star law agents, say, and then get on with the dramatic part of the story. Don’t encumber the reader with a dissertation on their departmental names.. ”
The first two sentences of this logline are clunky and turgid
Geno: “This needs an “extreme logline make-over”, so you can start by deleting everything up until “Their ship…” This is where your story starts. Identify your protag; I assume it’s Bella. Who is she? What is the protag’s goal? Getting out of a civil war? She has to have more of a goal. The obstacles? Zombies. The stakes? Losing her life, and failing in her other goal, as yet unknown.”
Identify your protag…. Who is she? What is the protag’s goal?
Phyllis: ” If this scriptwriter takes the conventions of the zombie genre and subverts them, a unique and compelling narrative could emerge. It’s an ambitious task, but not impossible. And the logline [is] too complicated. Keep it simple and strong, identifying the protagonist, her goal and ultimately what’s at stake – the intelligent undead should be the icing on the proverbial pudding.”
If you have an opinion on any of these synopses or the feedback from the judges, please share it with us in the comments below. Please keep the discussion constructive. Even if your first instinct may be subjective, try to give us as objective a reply as possible. The objective is to all (that includes us, judges) learn from the exercise.