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
“Ten-year-old Arkie’s quest to find her friend Blister takes her into a strange and beautiful world, in which she must overcome her darkest fears in order to save him and fulfil her destiny
The judges’ verdict:
Geno: While the names are cute and quirky, don’t include them in a logline (unless they are famous characters with a following). Phrases like “a strange and beautiful world”, and “must overcome her darkest fears” and “to save him and fulfill her destiny” are cliched and too generic. You need more specifics to YOUR story; this logline can fit almost every sci-fi or fantasy story ever written. The basic definition of a character arc is overcoming fears to fulfill a destiny”
Phrases like “a strange and beautiful world…are to clichéd and generic
Patrick: “You must cut out vague phrases like “a strange and beautiful world”, and “overcome her darkest fears” and “fulfil her destiny”, and replace them with specifics like: the main characters strength, flaw and occupation; what kind of worlds she travels to; and what’s stopping the main character from achieving her outer goal (to save her friend Blister)? ”
What’s stopping the main character from achieving her outer goal?
Karel: ”These inner-journey-only loglines are doing my head in. Even if there is a good story underneath, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS. It keeps baffling me how this type of loglines can be published on the web site of Australia’s main funding agency. All it does is proving that the filmmakers have no idea how to sell their films.”
“The transformation of Angelo d’Angelo, a New York hit man who is unwittingly embraced into the bosom of a simple, rural Australian community. For the first time, Angelo learns that love and family are just as effective as any weapon he’s ever known
The judges’ verdict:
James: ”Cute title that ties in well with the main characters name is one positive i’ll mention, but that’s about it. Another inner journey with no outer goal for the main character. It starts off well, we have the protagonist and what I assume is the inciting incident (him moving to Australia for some unknown reason). But it still needs more. It’s not enough to say that he changes, leaving us to figure out how. I’d rather read what he hopes to achieve from living with an Aussie family, and from this we as an audience can work out what kind of transformation he might undergo. ”
It’s not enough to say that he changes, leaving us to figure out how
Geno: “Resembles more of a paragraph from a query letter than an actual logline. It can be shortened considerably: A New York hit man is unwittingly embraced by a simple Australian community and discovers that love and family are as effective as any weapon he’s ever known.” From 43 down to 28 words, while keeping the heart of the story. The original, and pared down logline lacks a few elements- goal, obstacles, antag- but the hook is clear (although “hit man-gone-good” stories have been done before). ”
Resembles more of a paragraph from a query letter than an actual logline
Karel: “The transformation of” is a waste of space as most films are about the transformation of the main character. This is hardly ever what you would sell the movie on, though. DIE HARD is the transformation of a New York cop. But does anyone care? For a logline to be effective, we need to know what to expect in the OUTER JOURNEY, telling the visible action.”
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.