Further thoughts on loglines: Maybe I AM an expert!

expert-buttonAs I stated in an earlier post I am on a quest to simplify loglines.  It is my calling.  My quest.

Writers — myself included — need to do away with the extraneous details — names, character description etc. — that take away from what the logline serves: A simple sentence to describe the story. To let a potential reader know if it is a script they wish to read. It’s not a summary.  (The previous post I wrote that part in caps so it must have been important.)

Here is a logline of another fellow writer who was seeking comment:

After discovering a set of strange keys, three intrepid adventurers must race against time and the dangerous leader of a mysterious faction to be the first to reach the mythic ‘Throne of the Lost King’.

He added: “Any input welcome and appreciated.”  Here was my take:

“Three adventurers race to discover a lost treasure.”

Or if you must have more.

“Three adventurers race both time and others to discover a lost treasure.”

A potential reader sees that logline and knows what kind of script it is. An action adventure treasure hunt story.

The only time I would stray from this concise logline is when your story is so unique…specificity becomes necessary to underscore the uniqueness.  Such as:

“Arctic explorers discover an ancient spaceship encased in ice with an American Flag emblem.”

In this case, identifying the spaceship as U.S. and ancient conveys the unique flavor of this story. It’s not simply an alien movie — how could an ancient spaceship encased in ice be marked with a US Flag? More importantly, the modifiers are common knowledge subjects that bring with them definitions and facts that add to the story of the logline.

“Strange keys” and “Throne of the Lost King” are specific to the world created by the story. They mean nothing to the potential reader and add nothing to what the basic story is: adventurers seeking a treasure.

Lastly, descriptions such as “intrepid adventurers” are kind of worn out. Aren’t adventurers by definition intrepid? And to be honest…I don’t think the writer knew what intrepid meant before he wrote it. I had to look it up to be sure. It means courageous. I always thought it was more akin to dogged.

You should add a modifier only if it adds a flavor that separates your story from the norm. Such as “reluctant adventurers” or “lost adventurers” or “blind adventurers.”

The word “adventurer” is too vague, hence the desire to add detail. The logline already conveys adventure so why not be more descriptive? Archeologist? Oil Rig Captain? Bush Pilot? What are their actual jobs? One word can convey a small part of your story.

Lastly — why not set your story in reality? For example:

The adventurer could be an archeologist.  The mysterious faction could be the Nazis. And the Lost Throne could be the Ark of the…

Wait a minute.

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One thought on “Further thoughts on loglines: Maybe I AM an expert!

  1. paulrothbart says:

    Excellent post, Elf. I know my loglines tend to be dripping with detail. I’m a verbose person and I think that’s part of the problem. I’ll keep this in mind and see if I can rework some of my lengthier loglines. Thanks.

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