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Topic: Whip out your Loglines

Author: Timothy Landrum Posted: 12/11/08 11:28 AM

When a time traveler journeys back to his youth to reunite with the love of his life, he finds that dealing with the girl that split them up is much harder than he could imagine.

Any thoughts?

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 12/11/08 12:46 PM

Sounds succinct and pretty good to me. We've had time travel love stories, but I'm not aware of that exact time travel plot already being used. I'm sure it taps a common middle-aged fantasy, so there's your marketability. Got a great title, too?

Author: Andrew Young Posted: 12/11/08 01:35 PM

How about this logline? An ugly Prince looking for a date just gets abuse. He becomes goodlooking and the girls go crazy, but the men get jealous and a tale of envy unfolds.

Author: Nathan Goldman Posted: 12/11/08 01:40 PM

I like the logline -- it sets the genre and the theme. The reader wants to find out "harder" in what way. I'd be hesistant to tamper with it, but you might be a little clearer (in only a couple of words), drop a clue on what the protagonist's problem is (was, will be?).

Author: Timothy Landrum Posted: 12/11/08 05:34 PM

The tile is: "The Time Of My Life".

The original logline was:

A cancer stricken time traveler journeys back to his youth to reunite with the love of his life. Once reunited, only one thing stands between him and true happiness, the girl that split them up in the first place.

Author: James Bennett Posted: 12/11/08 09:13 PM

I was told that the shorter the better. My logline for Cover Band: Don't Stop believing is...

A cover band grows before our eyes to play on the grandest of stages, Madison Square Garden.

Author: Thomas Swan Jr Posted: 12/11/08 09:54 PM

James,

Yours is concise and we get the hint of the story but not quite enough. I feel a little more would help me to distinguish your story's path

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 12/13/08 05:25 AM

Here's one of mine. :-)

A little sister fights to keep her big brother out of a storm's influence when the cause of the dirty 30s is really the return of a family legend.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/13/08 02:36 PM

Orlanda,

I'm not an expert at loglines by any means, but I'm not sure I understand what the "storm" is. Is this a literal storm or a metaphorical one?

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/13/08 07:30 PM

Timothy, I'm glad you started this thread. I've been struggling with a logline for my script for...well, forever. It's a squirrely story to say the least. Any thoughts on my logline by any of you movie byters would be most welcome!

"When an aspiring mortician discovers he can ''paint'' the dead back to life, he's thrown into a nightmare world of gentle zombies, a serial killer dubbed The Suicide Killer, and the decision whether to revive his own deceased mother, only to come face-to-face with his own demise."

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 12/13/08 08:35 PM

Thomas, figure out how the plot really breaks down, and nail down what is the central question of the script. How do we know the story's over at the end? It's when something is definitively resolved.

Your logline definitively addresses only two of the four parts to be mapped out in a movie script.

First, you identify the TYPE of PERSON:

When an aspiring mortician

...who GETS / DOES / TRIES:

discovers he can "paint" the dead back to life,

...ONLY to DISCOVER THAT (midpoint twist): he's thrown into a nightmare world of gentle zombies, ... a serial killer dubbed The Suicide Killer, ... and the decision whether to revive his own deceased mother, ... only to come face-to-face with his own demise.

and he must do WHAT... (to resolve the central question)?

Well, "what" he must do depends on what *is* the central question.

Does he have to escape the world of "gentle zombies?" Defeat The Suicide Killer? Revive his dead mother? Avoid his own demise?

Whichever one of these questions, being answered, tells us the story's over, is the one to focus on. When you figure that out, get the others out of the logline, because they are only complications that arise on the way to resolving the central question.

If you don't have a well-defined central question, you don't have a salable screenplay to devise a logline for.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/13/08 10:09 PM

Thanks, Ron--you've given me a lot to think about. It's extremely helpful.

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 12/14/08 03:51 AM

Hi Thomas,

The storm is literal. A bit too vague, eh?

Funny, I get a ton of hits on this one compared to the ones that say more. Weird.

:~<

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 12/14/08 04:00 AM

Here's the earlier logline version for Thunder Warrior.

An early teen girl learns why young men disappear in a season of dry electrical storms in the dirty thirties. Now her and her friends have to save her big brother from the storm.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/14/08 08:15 AM

Hi Orlanda,

As I said in my first posting (and as the posting of my own logline shows), it could just be me. The original logline, though, is hard to grasp for me--I do wonder what exactly the story is (from the second part of teh sentence), so maybe that accounts for the greater interest (?). Anyway, the second one is much more clear, but couldn't you combine the two sentences into one? Something about how the brother's life is threatened by these supernatural storms (I'm not sure if they are supernatural, but perhaps there's an adjective that may suggest what it is while also whetting the reader's appetite).

Hope this helps!

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/14/08 09:46 AM

Ron (and anyone else who'd care to voice their opinion),

Using your suggestions I've reconfigured the logline. Let me know if I'm closer with this one. Thanks!

"When an aspiring mortician discovers he can ''paint'' the dead back to life, he's thrown into a nightmare world where he must confront his personal demons (or in this case, zombies) to begin a new life."

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/14/08 11:24 AM

I think maybe I could use some help on my logline too. I mean I do get allot of hits on it but no (reads) so I must be doing something wrong. Any ideas for my (Country Ballroom)?

INCREDIBLE DANCING is the last thing Reverend Green's daughter from Chicago expects when she attends her college roommate's country wedding in Iowa. Well, almost the last......

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 12/14/08 05:09 PM

Thomas, I do think that's quite a bit closer, but the last bit still doesnt' close the sale for me. What does it mean for this character to "begin a new life?" Since he's aspiring to be a mortician, does confronting his personal zombies (cute idea that his personal demons are zombies) help him fulfill his dream of working on cadavers? (This whole idea sounds kind of Tim Burton-ish.) If so, maybe he's not so much an "aspiring" mortician at the beginning (who's to stand in the way of such an ambition? Is there a surplus of applicants stepping all over each other for this particular job?) as a "bumbling" mortician? (Eeek.) I dunno, you do, but I think you can see what I'm driving at. I would think he either succeeds at becoming a mortician or becomes free of his morbid aspirations... he saves the day and "gets the girl" or something.

I will say it's easier to critique the log lines of others than to write a great one... carry on, brave souls... or zombies... whatever.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/14/08 05:44 PM

Ron,

Thanks for the extra feedback. I sensed exactly what you mentioned about the end of the logline. The NEW LIFE is not really about getting the mortician job but just moving beyond a stifling, anti-life, negative view on life--striking out and creating your own life, leaving behind all that is DEAD and starting anew (not dead literally, but figuratively).

In any event, I see your struggle with the end of the logline, and thanks again so much for the insight. I think I might be on the cusp of getting a logline that, well, can work--even if it it'll probably never be perfect. :)

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 12/14/08 10:47 PM

Okay, Thomas, so it's the "becomes free of his morbid" uh, preoccupations or something option, however you want to word that. I think that's all you need, an idea how it turns out for the protagonist. Sounds to me like you're on your way with that logline.

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 12/16/08 05:37 AM

Thanks for your input, Thomas. Knowing where it seems fuzzy is a better help than than you know.

LOL You're a writer. Of course you know.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/16/08 09:46 AM

Hi Janet,

I'll offer my two cents. The logline is enticing, but basing my response on what I've learned from Ron in this very thread, I would say the end of the logline (the second sentence) doesn't reveal to us what the (last thing) is that she expects. It keeps the script--what the script is about--away from the person who is reading the logline. The reader knows there is a wedding, that there is incredible dancing, but the main thing, the thing that is at the heart of the story, isn't given to us. And that's the one thing that needs to given.

If you even take a look at the first logline I posted on this thread, it suffers from the same problem yours does. It entices the reader (at least, I think mine does), but it doesn't tell the reader in the end what the script is about.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/16/08 05:04 PM

Thomas,

Really? I thought I was giving too much information not too little. I'm confused.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 12/16/08 05:30 PM

Just about every instruction and guideline to writing loglines includes some variation of the phrase, "Give the reader just a taste and leave them wanting more."

Unfortunately, people use that expression to justify vague loglines written as cliff-hangers. A quick made-up example, "A group of teenagers go camping in the woods, but they soon discover they are not alone..." That logline contains practically no information and won't get many script requests. It reads like the book reviews written by children in the Sunday LA Times, "Harry Potter goes to Hogswarts to discover that something bad is happening. Will he survive? To find out, read the book."

The key to loglines is clarity. Clarity is more important than even brevity. The logline should convey the genre, the tone, who the hero is, why the hero is interesting, what the exact conflict is, and what the hook of the story is.

Instead of thinking of giving your reader "a taste" of the story, give them that juicy picture of the meal that the restaurant puts on their menu. Make them say, "Damn, that steak looks great. I'm having that."

Clarity, clarity, clarity. They need to know exactly what to expect. They need to know what kind of script they're walking into. Cliffhangers and "..." don't create suspense and a desire to unravel the mystery of what the script is about. Instead, it reads like an undeveloped idea. Nobody wants to waste their time reading 100+ pages to see if there's an interesting and marketable story behind the script. They want to find out in 1-2 sentences.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/16/08 06:31 PM

Walter and Thomas,

I see, so it would be better to say:

Country Ballroom:

INCREDIBLE DANCING is the last thing a black minister's daughter from Chicago expects when she attends her college roommate's country wedding in Iowa. Well, next to the ardent admirer in a Stetson, that is.

Essentially, I was THAT direct and informative before and I still didn't get any (reads). Like I said, allot of hits but no reads. So, I really don't think THAT's my problem, but if you say so, Ill try it. Thank you.

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 12/16/08 07:38 PM

Hi Janet,

I think the logline works much better with the newer (or, I guess, older) version. As far as why you haven't gotten any reads, who can say? If I was a producer looking for a compelling script with music, dancing, and romance, I'd (read) it. But then, I'm not a producer, so your guess is as good as mine.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/16/08 09:10 PM

Thomas,

Thank you again. It isn't quite the same as it was before. So maybe you are right. We'll see.

Author: Jean Hunter Posted: 12/16/08 09:28 PM

Janet, how about this:

When a pretty black dancer from Chicago attends her college roommate's country wedding, the last thing she expects is being danced off her feet by an ardent cowboy in a Stetson.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/17/08 07:25 AM

Jean,

The focus in my script is the "incredible country ballroom dancing in Iowa" and "the somewhat unusual budding romance between a black minister's daughter and a local cowboy". Not that the minister's daughter is a dancer.

As a matter of fact I really don't say any where in my script that she's a "dancer" and she's definitely not aspiring to be a dancer. She's a college student studying to be a teacher who just happens to know how to sing and dance because of Church choirs and dancing growing up.

I think your version of my logline changes the focus.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/17/08 05:17 PM

Thomas and Walter,

I just checked my (hits) and I just got more than double the hits today than I have in a long....time. I mean its still not (reads) yet but hey, we have to start somewhere.

Anyway again, maybe you were right. Thank you both, again.

Janet

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 12/17/08 11:11 PM

That's great, Janet. Keeping fingers crossed for you to get some actual reads... for myself, too. I'm using a Barb Doyon logline for my latest and it hasn't pulled a single read all month.

I also meant to commend James Bennett on his great movie idea he posted here with his "Cover Band: Don't Stop Believin.'" Have you run that by Robert Kosberg, the "pitch king," nowadays working at Davis Entertainment? I'd think he'd run with that one in a New York minute. Good luck with it.

Author: Janet Hogate Posted: 12/22/08 06:54 PM

Thomas, Walter and Ron,

Sorry, Ive been so excited I haven't got on to thank you 3 again. I think you were all three definitely right because Ive just received several downloads and several synopsis reads in the last week and I barely got THAT in the whole 6 months Ive been on the board.

Again, thank you so much. I had no idea being just a little clearer and direct on my logline could help so much.

Wait. Unless of course it was just you three. Well, no matter what it looks much better. Thank you so much.

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 12/23/08 05:08 AM

Okay, I ran a new take.

A little sister fights to keep her brother from being taken by the storm when the real cause of the dirty 30's came from space.

Author: gordon hayes Posted: 01/09/09 05:26 PM

From on here in winningscripts area:

Ahriman - Invasion by a vicious desert planet gets stopped by their own hated but special prophet, himself accidentally extracted through a portal initially opened by Earth scientists.

This one was rough as its a complicated script and putting it into a log line is asking for grief. lol

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 01/10/09 06:46 AM

Gordon, the images this logline calls up in my mind are of a growing desert, which is coming from another world encroaching on Earth communities until, some robed prophet raises his shepherd's staff and commands this desert growth to stop. Then, he looks around and finds that he and a befuddled staff of scientists who surround him are muttering. "Well, thanks...Good thing we pulled you into our world. But now what?" I'll bet that sequence is a poor fit for your actual story.

One thing I suspect would help is not to say the prophet stops an invasion by a desert planet, but maybe he "single-handedly combats an invasion by inhabitants of his desert homeworld." IMO, you don't want someone actually in a position to help you either knowing he does actually stop the invasion, (which leaves just the "how"), or giving the impression this leaves him kind of hanging around after page five...

Author: Thomas Rechtin Posted: 01/11/09 10:38 AM

I'm still working on my own logline and have a new version that I'm hoping is not only intriguing but clearly gets across the quirky, psychological nature of my script (not to mention does everything a logline is supposed to do). Any thoughts on it would be welcome. Thanks!

When an aspiring mortician discovers he can paint the dead back to life, he's thrown into a nightmare world where his personal demons emerge as rebellious, flesh-eating zombies.