I clearly needed to get a hold of my script idea before it went off on a tangent. First stop, write the logline – screenwriting guru Blake Snyder’s first piece of advice in his book Save the Cat.
The logline is the one (or two)-liner that sums up what the film, TV programme or book is about.
Why a logline?
It’s useful for pitching your idea to the people who could potentially commission it, but it also serves as a handy guide whenever you’re stuck with the writing, helping you re-focus. The point, Snyder writes, is if you don’t understand what your story is about to a point where you can crystallise your idea into a mere handful of words, you may want to rethink it.
That brings me to the wild-haired genius at the top of the post.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
I understand my idea. I know the whys and wherefores but boiling it down to a simple short sentence (or two) is challenging to say the least. I have multiple strands: three characters, all sharing the limelight, who have to face three different problems and then take three different paths… Not so simple.
Needless to say, it held me up.
The rules of the logline
It needs to be interesting, concise, give a sense of place, character and audience and include:
- The hero (a description of them rather than a name such as a cranky elderly man)
- His/her goal (often has a challenge or touch of irony in there)
- The obstacle – what’s in the way?
A few examples:
The HANGOVER: A Las Vegas-set comedy centred around three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must retrace their steps in order to find him.
PULP FICTION: The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
THE GODFATHER: The ageing patriarch of an organised crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
My first logline was…
“When their worlds fall apart over the same week, three disenchanted cash-strapped girlfriends make a pact to attempt three wild ways to make it big – and get rich – fast.”
I then tested it at an excellent site dedicated to testing loglines: logline it. It’s normally for film loglines but whatevs.
Feedback was interesting:
This is too vague.
I do think this idea has potential, sort of Zach and Miri make a porno meets Risky Business. With the right amount of good one liners and a compelling inciting incident it could do well.
I don’t mind it. I see it as a comedy not a drama. I can see a crap load of comedy potential. Would make me want to read the synopsis. Remember logline is the appetizer not the first course.
So I did some tweaking and came up with these:
1. When their worlds fall apart, three disenchanted cash-strapped girlfriends make a pact to get rich.
2. When their hopes for a better (and easier) life are crushed, three disenchanted women choose three wild ways to make money fast.
3. A disastrous week pushes three disenchanted, working-class women to achieve their dreams (and get rich) by any means necessary, even if it means defying those they love.
What do you think? If you read that in your TV guide would you want to tune in? Hit me up in the comments, I can take it.
I’d also love to see it in the comments 🙂