#1 – Misleading Loglines
The most common reason I pass on a script is because it does not deliver on the logline.
This happens due to a number of circumstances (which are covered below), but it’s such a shame. My heart breaks when I find a great logline, request the script and then it’s like a bad dating experience. The script turns out to be nothing like I imagined. And after twenty minutes of meandering plot, I excuse myself to the bathroom and sneak out the back door.
The Heart of the Logline/Script Problem:
Good loglines simply state the plot and the biggest hook/surprise of your script. That’s why we fall for your logline—we get the concept instantly and can see it on the screen. However, scripts are rarely that simple and there’s tons to setup, subplots to introduce, characters to dazzle us, all while delivering on the genre with suspense (or screams or laughs or intrigue or love or other worlds). Thing is… that can bog down Act One.
How to Avoid this Logline Pitfall:
Act One needs to deliver on your concept and biggest hook/surprise—fast!
When I’m reading a script, if the writer loses the through-line of the story in the first twenty pages, they’ve lost me. And by ‘through-line,’ I mean the reason I want to see this movie. It’s something that I loved about your logline and it needs to drive Act One or it will read like you aren’t in control of the best part of your concept. And if you can’t deliver it in Act One, it won’t miraculously appear in Act Two or Three, so I stop reading.
You know how they say you have 20 pages to grab your reader? (Sometimes less.) It’s not an arbitrary time limit, like Hollywood readers set a timer for every script. It’s because the first 20 pages are that important. Frankly, if a script has a few issues in Act Two and Three, but has an amazing Act One, I can work with that. I’d option that script.
So, yes, it could sound counter to what you’ve learned before, but the best part of your logline needs to drive the action in Act One of your script. Now, don’t get me wrong. Your logline is not just a logline of Act One. It has to let me see the whole story, but whatever the juiciest, gotta-get-this-script-produced part of your logline is… that needs to be front and center in Act One, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME continuing to do all the things that Act Ones do — set up the normal world, introduce the characters and twist everything upside down. Easy, huh?
Bottomline: Test your logline and make certain it evokes what your script delivers!
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