Thursday, June 16, 2011

You are a very beautiful so I want to be a screenwriter

Today, I have read from several books and articles that have described why my screenplay sucks, although I did not actually read the book Your Screenplay Sucks, found on Amazon and available on Amazon Kindle (can I get monetized now?).

To fully understand and even appreciate why my scripts have sucked (and my old roomie and soon-to-be Nobel Prize winning author, Tiffani Barth, can attest) I had to first understand and fully appreciate the fact that I am no good at loglines, or, my loglines suck.

Before I go on pretentiously assuming that everyone knows what loglines are or OUGHT to know, I will now elucidate (oops, anti-pretentiousness, fail).

A logline, or a one-liner, is something that big muckety-mucks in the film world use as a cheat sheet to the big question on any film goers mind: what is this about? It is a couple of quick and to the point sentences answering just that question.

These loglines are not written for snot-nosed Cinephiles; they are made for the everyman. Loglines are movie Sparksnotes for a busy executive or agent or producer. Later on, you'll read it on the back of the DVD box you're considering or on the poster your ogling. Yes, eventually loglines leave the desks of burned-out executives and make it into our very homes....that is, if it doesn't suck.

And the reason that I have to be good at them, besides simply selling one, is that it doesn't serve you as a writer to keep endlessly writing a screenplay or novel about something that you're not quite sure about. The story starts to take some interesting detours in and out of genre and theme and SENSE when you don't know precisely what is supposed to happen.

Some writers might say that even more important is the theme, but with respect to them I must say, I think this is true but it comes later. What the thing is ABOUT is what comes first, and then the theme, or, the moral of the story is discovered by everyone after they have actually seen the movie. Some people say that the theme IS what it's about, but truthfully, what happens is what it's about, and the theme is the significance of what's happened.

Here is an example of a fairly good logline (and by the way, guess the title of this movie and I'll personally write a love letter to you on this blog):

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

Although I think this one could be a little more compelling, it obviously sold (if you can guess it, you'll know how well it sold). And the thing is, I have a million screenplay ideas rolling around my brain, but the concise and compelling way of pitching them is always my struggle. The above logline is very concise and pretty compelling.

So, here is my logline for this week:

A fledgling screenwriter struggles to write pithy, compelling one-liners, but is mistakenly thrust into the world of legitimate screenwriters anyway.

Hmm, logline or wishful thinking?

Wish me luck, and the ability to simplify and, if necessary, revise.


  1. Um, that would be North by Northwest. Let the loving in a letter commence.

    And I wish you luck, but you don't need it. You are meant for great things.

  2. How about I write a logline for you, if you write a logline for me?

  3. You know what your writing style reminds me of-the show Pushing Daisies. I LOVED that show...and your style reminds me a lot of that.
    Oh and good luck by the way with those logines!