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
Judgment at Armageddon
[box] “A scientist builds a satellite system that ends World War III; then must find a way to disable it to prevent another holocaust in the battle of Armageddon. “[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: This logline is a bit confused and circular, as it currently stands. A satellite system prevents WWIII yet needs to be disabled during some later world war? The why and the how is left too unsaid. Greater clarity is needed to prevent a reader from scratching their head and just moving on. Try “A new orbital guardian system is equiped with artificial intelligence that can swiftly cut short any explosive war. When the machine intelligence calculates that a small population is an acceptable loss, its inventor must turn against it.””
Greater clarity is needed to prevent a reader from scratching their head and just moving on
James: “The story line is a little confusing. You may need to add in some dates or something like ‘as a result of this satellite being built’. However apart from the confusion, this logline still possesses some strong elements. It has the protagonist, the first act is clearly laid out with a clear goal for the second act. I’m just curious as to whether there is an antagonist. Or is the satellite acting here as a pseudo-antagonist? Sorting out its clarity will definitely help improve the logline here. ”
Is [there] an antagonist?
Remember the Malmo
[box] “A small Texas border town fights for its independence from Mexico and the U.S. after an earthquake changes the course of the Rio Grande River and makes it an island.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Paul: “You need to personalize it. Who’s the hero of the story? Is it the leader of the town? Someone needs to represent the parties involved on a personal level or we simply won’t care. Also, what are the consequences if it doesn’t gain independence?”
Who’s the hero of the story?
Steven: “Interesting and different premise, certainly. Top marks for originality. But there’s the big hole of why would the former Texas town suddenly want independence. Being suddenly surrounded by water does not cut it by itself. Unless this town has a population of, say, far right survivalists and/or right-to-bear-arms types. (In which case this needs to be specified in the logline for the sake of clarity.)”
Interesting and different premise, certainly
James: I think that changing the order of the words here will make a huge initial difference. Try, “After an earthquake changes…a small Texas border town must…” this creates a nice cause and effect in the reading of the logline. Secondly this has to have a a central character. Every movie has at least one central character. If it doesn’t then don’t bother writing it. In the logline you have to highlight who he/she is and what her/his place in the story is.
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.