SimplyScripts.Com Logo

Friday, May 9, 2014

Notes from a Veteran Writer – The Logline List (P.J. McNeill) - posted by P. J. McNeill

The Logline List

 

I’m on vacation this week – in the beautiful, sunny Midwest – so this entry will be a short one.

One of the best bits of advice I ever received was on what to do when I can’t decide what my next screenplay should be about. I have a word document saved to my Dropbox called “Movie Ideas A-Go-Go” where I jot down any half or fully-fleshed out ideas I have. The problem is, I usually have trouble deciding what idea is worth pursuing when I’m gearing up to write my next script. So a pseudo-mentor of mine offered up this advice:

Take your 10 best ideas, put them as loglines in a list, and start handing the list out to people. Tell them to pick their 3 favorite ideas. Write the one that gets the most votes.

This is how I picked the last two screenplays I wrote, and I’m so glad I did. It allowed me to see which loglines really clicked with people (you know, people: the ones that will be shelling out cash to see the finished product), and which ones needed work. If a logline wasn’t generating a lot of votes, it didn’t necessarily mean that the idea was bad, it just meant that maybe it wasn’t as clearly defined as I thought it was. (If anything, the exercise is a great excuse to really hone your loglines.)

But it went beyond that: When I handed the list out, I had a drama logline that received ZERO votes. I was shocked, because I thought it was a really great idea. So I started talking it over with a friend, and realized that the idea might actually be better suited for comedy. So I switched the genre (not the idea), and suddenly it was generating a lot of interest. It was such a simple switch, but it quickly redefined the entire screenplay. If you really think the idea has legs, just tinker with it a bit and figure out what’s not sitting right with people.

One interesting twist I did with the list this time around was leaving off the genres. I told people not only to pick their favorite logline, but to tell me what genre came to mind for them when they read it.   I was surprised to find that a comedy idea I was particularly keen on was being seen by everyone as a horror film instead.

So, give this little exercise a try. Because remember: these are most likely the same people you’ll be pestering to read your script in a few months, so it helps to know they’ll WANT to read it.

About the writer: A talented writer and 10 year veteran of the industry, “P.J. McNeill” has seen it all (and he’s ready to kiss and tell.) Got a question, a comment or just general bile /praise you want to spew?  Email PJ at pjscriptblog@gmail.com. New to P.J. readership?  Click here for more articles!

1 Comments so far

1.

Angry Bear
May 9th, 2014 at 8:58 am

Good idea about asking people which logline they like and what genre they think it is.

Search with Google

    Custom Search SimplyScripts

Award Season Screenplays - New!

Subscribe to the SimplyScripts mailing list

    Email Address


Featured SimplyScripts Blogs

ScriptSearch

Advertisement

More Navigation

Great Vocab

Latest Entries

Categories

Script of the Day
November 18, 2017

    Secrets by Brian Lewis

    Two social rivals meet up for a drink, but the night soon takes a dark turn. 6 pages
    Discuss it on the Forum

    *Randomizer code provided by Cornetto.

Advertisement

Donate


Advertisement



Writers I dig

Search Amazon

Search Sheet Music




SimplyScripts Logo