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Topic: Help with logline/synopsis!

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/27/10 10:35 AM

I'm looking for some assistance.

I absolutely hate writing the logline/synopsis. I loathe it. Taking something that (as tight and concisely as I can write it) takes up 103 pages, and then paring that down to just a few words is a terrible process for me.

So, I beseech any and all do-gooders to give me your 2 cents on what I have and how I can make it better.

You can find my information (and even a 10-page excerpt if you are so inclined) on this website:

http://www.screenwritershowcase.com/scripts/s652.php

I'm thankful for any comments, and I have a thick skin. I know I've written a great script, but I also know that my logline/synopsis sucks.

James

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/27/10 11:31 AM

The best starting point for a rough one is: Protagonist, what they want, plot point 1 (what sets everything into motion), the stakes.

Author: Terri S Posted: 04/27/10 11:53 AM

James, I'm right there with you. I think it's harder to write a logline and/or synopsis than the actual script! :)

I don't know if this will help, but what I did was type out a list of as many loglines as I could come up with, including the slightest variations. Then, I sent that list to about ten different people (people I could trust to tell me the truth and not sugar coat it), and asked them which ones might be an enticing/intriguing logline. After a LOT of suggestions and rewrites, I finally whittled the list down to the best one. I also made sure to include a mix of people who had read and not read the script. After all, a logline and/or synopsis is what often determines whether or not a person wants to see a movie (e.g., I see the logline/synopsis on imdb.com, and if it sounds interesting, I watch the trailer).

Again, I don't know if this will help, but it's what I tried to do. Good luck! :)

Author: Susan Russell Posted: 04/27/10 12:45 PM

I also hate writing loglines and synopses.

I think your logline is pretty good, but the synopsis does not pique my interest nearly as much as the ten pages. Part of the problem is that you focus on the concept more than the protagonist. I'd like to see more description of Deleon in the synopsis. It's also a bit unclear whether he faces more danger from being infected or being eaten. You could be more specific about who the other survivors are, rather than just a rag-tag group. Don't try to explain the story in the synopsis, just give a feeling for the characters and the situation they're facing.

I hope you get some reads--the first ten pages make me want to see the movie.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/27/10 01:16 PM

Yes - also, check imdb for similar films and model your logline off ones you like.

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/27/10 06:12 PM

Irin — Thanks. This is some solid general advice. I'll take another look.

Terri — I agree completely! I know how important the logline is, and I understand why it's a necessary evil. Which is probably why I'm stressing out so much over it. It's the first thing a producer sees, and it can make or break your opportunity to get reads.

SusanFirst, thanks for your kind words about my pages. I know my synopsis does my script no justice at all, and that's why I've turned for help. You've got some good advice here, and I'll look at it with this in mind.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/27/10 08:14 PM

And I also completely hate 1 or 2 page synopses. Not matter how you cut it, you don't get the character development of a drama or the really funny stuff of a comedy - you can't equate 110 pages to 2 and expect it to all feel right. If I'm asked for them, I often ignore the request unless it's demanded. I feel like it's for people looking for a reason to say no. But that's just my opinion.

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/28/10 12:26 PM

Okay, I've changed it up. Looking for new thoughts and critiques:

Logline: "Science will finally give us eternal life, and the immortal will eat the flesh of the living."

Synopsis: Lewis Deleon is a young, hotshot geneticist vying for the Nobel Prize with his new formula to end aging. But eternal life has a price: those exposed become the living dead, eager to share their sickness with others. Now Deleon must navigate the apocalypse he created in order to finalize his cure. When he meets a group of malnourished, draconian survivors, he must balance the need for their help with the secret that he's staving off infection. Will he find the cure before it's too late? Or will Deleon prove to their damnation rather than their salvation?

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/28/10 12:36 PM

The logline you have isn't a logline though, it's a tagline. "If adventure had a name, it would be Indiana Jones." "In space no one can hear you scream." No one wants this because the marketing department comes up with it. The logline should be more like what you'd see when you hit info on your cable TV guide, or what's on imdb. Basically one line of what the film is actually about - the protagonist and journey. The two lines above don't tell me what those films are about, just that they are action (Raiders) and horror in space (Alien, or was that Aliens?) You're being asked for a logline so people will know what the script is about, not how it would be marketed.

You should take the synopsis paragraph (which is fine for that_ and cut it down to one sentence. I know that sucks, but it's what people want. Think of it as what you'd answer when your friend says - oh you saw The Hurt Locker? What was it about? The answer is the logline.

Author: Susan Russell Posted: 04/28/10 01:00 PM

Too bad it's a tagline--I like it! I think the synopsis is way better now. You have a word left out in the last sentence: "Will Deleon prove to _be_ their damnation..."

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/28/10 01:26 PM

Here - I looked up The Hurt Locker on imdb since it's the one I just mentioned. Your friend asks "what's this film about?"

"You don't have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps."

"Iraq. Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb."

The first is the tagline on the movie poster. The second is the logline. You'd answer the second to your friend.

And here's a one paragraph synopsis:

"An intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. When a new sergeant, James, takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn and Eldridge, by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat. James behaves as if he's indifferent to death. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James' true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever."

I hope this helps.

Author: Terri S Posted: 04/28/10 02:09 PM

That's a really helpful example, Irin. Thanks for posting!

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 04/28/10 03:32 PM

No prob.

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/28/10 03:41 PM

Blast it, Irin! You're right. It is a tagline.

I'll keep the new synopsis, but try this on for size for a new logline:

"A group surviving the zombie apocalypse joins a man hiding a terrible secret: not only did he create the undead virus, but he's also infected with it."

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/28/10 03:45 PM

Also, thank you Susan.

Author: Terri S Posted: 04/28/10 04:44 PM

James,

It sounds good, but maybe you could say "...joins forces with..." to clarify that he's trying to help them despite having created it and being infected with it? At least, that's the impression that I got from reading it.

Author: Terri S Posted: 04/28/10 04:47 PM

Hmm...now I'm wondering if I should post my logline and synopsis on here, too! Lots of good feedback from people. :)

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/28/10 05:39 PM

Terri -- Great suggestion! I've incorporated it. I'll certainly give you my two cents, if you want it.

Author: Robert Watson Posted: 04/28/10 07:24 PM

Just a suggestion, but if the scientist is the lead, you should ''lead'' with him rather than the group. Something like: After a zombie apocalypse, a scientist joins forces with a group of survivors, but he hides from them a terrible secret: not only did he create the undead virus, but he's also infected with it.

And though I haven't read your pages, you might want to explain the zombie virus thing. Something like: After a virus turns most of the population into zombies, a scientist joins forces with a group of uninfected survivors, but he hides from them a terrible secret: not only did he create the undead virus, but he's also infected with it.

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 04/29/10 11:40 AM

When a pill that prevents aging has catastrophic sided effects it's creator must find a way to stop what he's started when he himself becomes infected.

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 04/29/10 11:41 AM

Ooops, that looks arrogant. I meant to say, "Here's my go at it."

Heather

Author: James Schannep Posted: 04/29/10 01:43 PM

Robert — I appreciate what you're getting at with leading with the lead, but it reads a little clumsy. Four punctuation marks is one hell of a sentence! I'll ponder this&

Also, in my experience, no one cares 'how' the zombies were made (however, I do think my way is pretty cool). Some movies even skip the explanation altogether. I feel like the concept of ''zombie apocalypse'' is familiar enough that I can keep it short and sweet and omit the 'how'. Good stuff, though.

Heather — I'm not offended! I know everyone's comments are just their opinion and I'll only use what I think helps. I think your logline sounds interesting, but sounds more like an Ebola type movie than a zombie movie.

Thanks all, keep 'em coming.

Author: TJ Cimfel Posted: 04/29/10 02:47 PM

Here's a stab. I agree with Robert, the protag is the movie. There should be an artful way to lead with him instead of the group. Like, for instance, breaking up the two secrets from each other (that is, the invention vs the infection)

This kind of falters at the end, but might work as a clausal map.

"In the midst of a zombie apocalypse of his own making, a brilliant scientist struggles to hide his own infection from the world's last survivors."

Author: TJ Cimfel Posted: 04/29/10 02:48 PM

Bah, and now I see repetition with "of his own making" and "his own infection."

I still like the flow, but it needs wordsmithing...

Author: Bobbette Findley Posted: 04/29/10 07:19 PM

Using Tj's beginng,how about this:

"In the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a scientist joins forces with the last human survivors, but hides a dark secret: he created the zombies and he is infected."