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
Matter of Time
[box] “When an accused murderer claims that her friend time-travelled, a famous psychiatrist turned writer starts questioning his beliefs and rationality”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: “This is a really muddled and confused story here (and not in any sophisticated “Inception” sense). Most execs would reject this just because of the muddle. Furthermore there is nothing in the logline to suggest that the accused murderer is not plain nuts with her claim of a time travelling friend. Really bad start making this potentially a story about loonies all round! The psychiatrist/writer is a completely redundant character. The accused murderer has enough questionable sanity, so why introduce this third person?”
There is nothing…to suggest that the accused murderer is not plain nuts
Karel“Who is the main character? An accused murderer: if she is innocent, we will have sympathy and she could be the MC? Her friend? if there is someone time-travelling in the story, this is likely the most interesting character and perhaps should be the MC. A famous psychiatrist turned writer: if he “starts questioning his beliefs and rationality”, you’re probably in dangerous territory. The audience doesn’t like main characters (thinking they’re) going mad, unless they figure out quickly that they are NOT and start doing something about what is really the issue. ”
Who is the main character?
James: I can see what you tried to achieve here, which is a good thing. The only real issue is that it’s come out sounding muddled and confused. My first suggestion is leave the psychiatrist out of it. Mention that he needs to prove his sanity and leave it at that. Try and concentrate on the protagonist and the antagonist (the time-traveller I assume?) Give the accused murderer a goal, to prove that she didn’t kill anybody. Her stakes? Prison and possibly death. When in doubt with a logline stick to the classic, Keep It Simple Stupid.
Horn of the Leviathan
[box] “When a Fire-Demon from his parents past kidnaps his fiancé, a timid hydrologist must locate a mythical artefact and uncover its power before the Devil kills his lover and unborn child”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
James: “It’s fun (and a relief) to say that this is actually a very good logline, as far as they go. We have a clear protagonist with a flaw (he’s timid). We have the antagonist, the demon. We have a clear goal for the protagonist, to locate the artefact and kill the demon/devil. And what’s even better is that he’s been given some serious stakes, the death of his finance and unborn child. Not only does it have all these factors, but it’s written in a clear manner. It gives us the inciting incident and indicates what will happen in the second act without giving the story away. Well done.”
We have a clear protagonist with a flaw.
Steven: “The logline need not mention either the parents or the Devil (Satan?) unless they add dramatic tension to the pitch (which they don’t here). Keep the logline taut by just mentioning the conflict between the hydrologist and the Fire Demon. (Nice contrast between the elements of water and fire here, by the way.) So, to revise: The Fire Demon has kidnapped the fiance and intends to kill her. The hydrologist has got to get the artefact to rescue her. Simple, dramatic, high stakes – that’s what execs want to read!”
Keep the logline taut by just mentioning the conflict between the hydrologist and the Fire Demon
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.