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] “When a policeman’s family is kidnapped by a sadistic crimelord he must kill a rival crime boss to save his family.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: “More is needed here to hook interest. For example, is the cop the rival crime lord’s brother, or even son? (That would work well with the sadism trait.) Or is the cop an ex CIA or infiltration expert? (Which suddenly makes sense why the cop has been chosen over the regular goons.)”
More is needed here to hook interest
Patrockable: “Strong sense of genre. Cool goal. And high stakes! But the main character’s a bit bland. He needs a flaw. Also, something to consider: maybe not a cop? It might be too easy for a cop. Could we make him a librarian? A data analyst? Making it hard for the hero spices up the story. (Although it might mess with the sense of genre!) And very lean.”
The main character’s a bit bland
Sheep among Wolves
[box] “When a privileged naïve young woman is attacked by an enraged lunatic accusing her of assassinating his wife, her sheltered world comes crashing down around her with the possibility he may be right.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
James: “This has the right idea but is just far to wordy. 25-30 words at the most is all that a logline should be. This one tries to use every adjective possible to describe the characters. The problem with this is that we go into the film with our minds already made up, this means that the characters never really stand a chance to develop in our minds. Secondly a goal is needed. The opening is good, we have the inciting incident but there’s know real indication of where the story will travel in the next act. After the first plot point is given away try something like …”She must then prove that this is not the case before (he goes to prison for murder?)’ Just a thought. ”
We have a clear protagonist with a flaw.
Steven: “Bad choice of words here. And inefficient in other parts. For example, instead of saying all of “privileged naive young woman” you could just say “debutante” or “debutante princess”. Instead of labelling her attacker immediately as an “enraged lunatic”, create sympathy and credibility for him by first describing him as “a man whose wife was murdered”. If the reader is first told his motivation, then we will not so quickly dismiss his rage and desperation. Readers (including execs) are not interested in plain lunatics. But they WILL be interested in someone driven to ‘mad’ measures for a good and understandable reason. Always treat your characters with respect. Even supporting characters.”
Always treat your characters with respect
Patrockable: You’ve created an interesting main character and antagonist, but she needs a goal! And what are the stakes? It’s bad to be attacked, but what is the danger after? Does the antagonist continue to threaten her? Will the police arrest her unless she proves her innocence?”
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.