A little logline help

lumberjacks
In retrospect, we should have clarified to the art department what a logline actually is

As part of my latest effort to get organized regarding self-marketing, I went through my loglines and tweaked them accordingly. Compared to their predecessors, they now seem to pack a bit more of a punch, which was my intent.

You never know the difference it makes when you add a word, take one out, or switch it out with a word you didn’t realize was stronger until after the actual switching.

The logline is what makes the first true impression on a reader. Does yours do the job you need it to?

Does the logline for your comedy offer up a funny premise?

Got a thriller or horror? Then that logline should jumpstart the goosebumps.

Do we eagerly anticipiate the pending rollercoaster ride for your action-adventure?

To utilize a somewhat clunky food metaphor, the logline gives us a sample taste for the exquisite meal we expect from the script.

That’s if the logline works. But what if you think it’s lacking the necessary ‘oomph’ it needs?

Worry no more. Friend-of-the-blog Angela Bourassa of LA Screenwriter has written 10 Steps to a Compelling Logline, which offers up some exceptionally helpful advice and guidelines. And if you’re still feeling stuck, here’s a link to her high-quality logline service.

It’s that time again!

New York Author Honored at Cocktail Party
Sparkling wit, bon mots & smart turns of phrase are right at home here

Another three months has passed, making it a more than fitting opportunity to check in with all of you hard-working writers to find out exactly how that writing is going.

That’s right, gang. Put on your public-speaking pants (online edition) and step up to take part in the world-renowned Project Status Update Time!

(insert triumphant fanfare here)

It’s a fairly simple process. In the comments section below, feel free to share with the rest of us what’s new with you and your writing.

Page count. Logline development. Contact with a prodco or rep. Pre-production on a short. Any and all updates are welcome.

As is the tradition, I’ll start things off:

I’ll still give it one more read-through, but I wrapped up the rewrite/polish on the comedy spec. It’s more of a dramedy now, but still quite a charming little story.

I’m also in the process of giving notes on some friends’ scripts, and once all of those are done, it’s onto a pair of new projects. Exciting times, indeed.

How about you?

Pedal to the metal

It may be kmph, but it's still fast
It may be kmph, but it’s still fast

Nice to be back. Didja miss me?

Y’know, visiting three major metropolitan areas in a week (four if you count the one where I started and ended AKA home) can really tire a guy out.

So while I work on readjusting to my native time zone, I’m also working on getting some writing-related affairs in order.

-Due to a last-minute family medical emergency, my manager had to cancel our face-to-face meeting. Bummer. And his assistant was up to his eyeballs in reducing his steadily-growing workload, so he couldn’t meet either. Double bummer.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining: I got emails from both the next day about the rewrite. Overall: great job, nice scene changes and choices, very solid structure.

Up next – a “high-octane” logline and synopsis. Although I’ve always had problems with the latter, I really like the sound of that particular adjective.

“High-octane.”  Sounds fast, powerful and strong.

This is a fast-moving script with lots of swashbuckling action, so that’s the mood my 1-2 sentence description and 1-pager should convey.

The logline and synopsis are your best chances to really showcase what your story’s about, but letting the genre do the heavy lifting. Comedy – play up the jokes. Thriller – keep us in suspense. Horror – scare us.

In my case – adventure – both logline and synopsis should give you an idea of what kind of rollercoaster ride you’re in for.

I’ve written before about what a solid logline should include, but just in case: hero with a flaw, villain with a goal, the conflict between the two, and what’s at stake.

The synopsis has always given me trouble. It’s easy to get lost trying to accurately describe the story. You want to include all the cool stuff, but you can’t.  As a result, here’s a tip I’ve found very, very helpful: focus on the main character and their storyline. Don’t worry about the subplots and supporting characters.

Although it comes from publishing, this may be a huge help for those also struggling with the synopsis.

You’d think after tackling a 100+-page script, writing the same story in one page would be easy. But it isn’t.

But it is doable. Like for a script or any kind of writing, you just have to work at it.

Dispatches from the road

Who doesn't love finding one in their actual mailbox?
Nothing like finding one in your mailbox

Visiting my folks this week, so not much time for writing. That being said, there are a few items worth mentioning…

-The Tracking Board Launchpad top 10 finalists were named earlier this week, and I was not one of them. It was a little disappointing to not see my name on the new list, but I can still claim to be one of the semifinalists, which is at least something.

The logline to DREAMSHIP is now officially posted as part of the contest update, so now it’s a wait-and-see situation regarding being contacted by potential reps. Which leads me to…

-Having an actual face-to-face meeting with my manager today, so I’ve been working on questions to ask and topics to discuss. Looking forward to hearing feedback on the latest (and hopefully final) rewrite.

This is a great chance for both of us to further explore what we’re both hoping to achieve, and what we can do to get there. Should be interesting.

-Your thoughts on summer movies so far? Hoping to see STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS this week, and looking forward to MAN OF STEEL next week. IRON MAN 3 was fun. No interest whatsoever in HANGOVER 3 or AFTER EARTH.

As much as I enjoy a lot of these fanboy films, it would be nice to see more original stuff (the forthcoming PACIFIC RIM, for example). Sequels, remakes and reboots can only carry you so far.

-The fine folks at United were generous enough to let us use the DirectTV for free on the flight here, so got to see WRECK-IT RALPH again. Still fun. Wish they’d do that all the time.

The 10-second description

Give or take a second or two
Give or take a second or two

Scenario:  You’re at a social function, engaged in idle chit-chat.  The topic of you being a screenwriter comes up.

“What’s your story about?” they will undoubtedly ask.

The chance you’ve been waiting for!  What do you say?

You want to pique their curiosity, and not bore them.

In the simplest of terms:  provide a quick summary of the main characters(s) and what happens in the main storyline.

Avoid too much information, non-essential characters, intricate subplots, how it’s a metaphor for this totally different other thing, or generic phrases like “and learns about themselves” or “stumbles into a world she wasn’t prepared for” or the ever-dreaded “wackiness ensues.”

What are the components of an effective logline?  Just the following:

1. A protagonist with a flaw.

2. An antagonist with a goal.

3. The situation that pits them against each other

4. What’s at stake.

That’s pretty much it. Keep it simple. Nothing too specific or generic.

Make sure you emphasize the genre. If it’s a comedy, play up the comedic angle. A thriller, go for the suspense. That sort of thing.

And most importantly, make it sound interesting. This is your best chance to grab their attention, so make the most of it (and make sure the script is just as good).