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
[box] “Jobe lives with his alcoholic father who was once a champion runner. Jobe, a misfit and loner, has inherited his father’s athletic ability. Ex-Olympian, Harry White, sets about mentoring his athletic ability It is now up to Harry to encourage Jobe to dig deep and decide what type of man he wants to become.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
James: “Firstly the inclusion of names is not needed. It takes up words, makes the loglines muddled and just leads to confuse the reader. Until we begin to connect with the characters (in the screenplay) leave the names out. Secondly the goal is unclear. We get that he wants to be a great runner, but this is far too vague. We need to see a possible finish line for the character, otherwise we sit back and watch the film with no idea where this film is going or how it could possibly end.”
Until we begin to connect with the characters…leave the names out
Steven: “Although there is the implication that Jobe’s father will put obstacles in Jobe’s goal to be an athlete, it is not clear that the father is an impressive antagonist. The father might be a big and strong man, or – just as easily – a pathetic and slouching drunk. The logline does not tell us which and this makes a big difference to the dramatic tension possibilities..
It is not clear that the father is an impressive antagonist
The Fifth Shadow
[box] “THE 5TH SHADOW is a dark, surreal thriller with a troubled protagonist, searching for one last masterpiece and a mysterious villain. This is the deep exploration of a disturbed man, alone in a world that has no place for him and the razor thin line between dream and reality.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Geno: “The logline as currently stated is missing many crucial elements, and needs to be restructured and reconfigured if it there is any hope of effectively promoting the script. Identify the protagonist, antagonist, the goal, the obstacles, the stakes, the “hook” (what separates this story from all others of its genre), any irony and have it give the tone of the genre( do not state it). ”
Identify the protagonist, antagonist, the goal, the obstacles, the stakes…
Steven: “Sounds like the protagonist is borderline insane. A bad start! Less emphasis should have been made on the protagonist being “disturbed” and much more on how powerful the “mysterious villain” is. Also, the mere mention of a “masterpiece” does not engage either our interest or our curosity, as we have no sense of what this object means to the protagonist. Better to have the villain abduct the protagonist’s lover. While such a plot device might be thought to be stereotypical, it at least makes it obvious why the protagonist – no matter how flawed – would be compelled to chase after the villain and endure great hardship to defeat him. ”
Less emphasis should have been made on the protagonist being “disturbed”
James: “There is nothing here, as simple as that. It mentions a protagonist and his search for…who knows what. This is vague. It mentions a villain but with no further hints at his abilities he is simply words on paper. Not scary or challenging at all. And this ‘deep exploration,’ sounds like its going to be 2hours with confused man walking around with no goal or idea what he is doing (passive protagonist alert). I’ll say it again, we need to see a clear goal. A simple goal would make this not great, but still better than what it is…words on a page with little meaning. ”
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.