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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Review My Logline  ›  "Book of the Month" - Logline Review Request Moderators: LC
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dm36415
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 12:57pm Report to Moderator
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I have three options, struggling to determine which (if any) is the most compelling. My thoughts are currently with the third listed below, any and all comments are appreciated.

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In the 1987 post-cold war era, a nuclear holocaust can only be prevented by an amateur writer who has unwittingly triggered a chain of events that could lead to World War 3.

In the 1987 post-cold war era, an amateur writer who has unwittingly triggered a chain of events that will lead to a nuclear holocaust must transform himself and become the only person that can prevent World War 3.

Unaware he has triggered a chain of events that will lead to a nuclear holocaust in the 1987 post-cold war era, an amateur novelist must transform himself and travel halfway around the world to prevent World War 3.
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khamanna
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 1:08pm Report to Moderator
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I like the second pard of the third one since it's more of what he has to do. I'd still add to what he has to do as "transform and travel halfway around the world" doesn't tell me much. I mean I'd want to see some connection to what's going on.

Nuclear holocause of 1987 can be stopped by:
him transforming himself (what for?)
traveling around the world (again how will it stop the holocaust at all)

Or maybe you don't have to include transforming himself at all but say about travelling. And make it look like a challenge. Why is it hard for him?

But for the first part I'd go with either one or two.
So maybe the beginning oculd be:
Unwittingly triggering a chain of events that could lead to WW3, an amateur novelist must...

(and this way you don't have to say "prevent WW3)

I mean, maybe... imo of course all of it.
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eldave1
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 2:15pm Report to Moderator
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To me - the time period is kind of irrelevant and I want to know what "transforms" means. I also want to know what kind of writer - amatuer doesn't cut it.  Is he a journalist? scriptwriter? Novelist??? I start by flipping the way you say it:

PS - let's assume he is a script writer.

When a Screenwriter unwittingly triggers a chain of events that could lead to a nuclear holocaust, he must.... (NOW INDICATE WHAT HE MUST DO IS SIMPLE AND SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE).


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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dm36415
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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Let me add some additional color for context.

When I had my screenplay professionally read and scored (using the first logline), the reader totally missed the true thrust of the script, the writer's transformation which becomes evident with the twist at the end. High marks for great story and dialog, but it was reviewed like reviewing Citizen Kane as a story about some guy and his love for a sled...  I was a bit perplexed, as a few friends I let read it did get it.

As there are several twists, I was hesitant to give up too much in the logline, hoping that viewers (and readers) weren't too superficial to understand it.

Am I missing the mark? Will I need to hit the audience over the head with a hammer to get it? I do still have confidence in the perceptive capabilities of people.
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eldave1
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 2:53pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from dm36415
Let me add some additional color for context.

When I had my screenplay professionally read and scored (using the first logline), the reader totally missed the true thrust of the script, the writer's transformation which becomes evident with the twist at the end. High marks for great story and dialog, but it was reviewed like reviewing Citizen Kane as a story about some guy and his love for a sled...  I was a bit perplexed, as a few friends I let read it did get it.

As there are several twists, I was hesitant to give up too much in the logline, hoping that viewers (and readers) weren't too superficial to understand it.

Am I missing the mark? Will I need to hit the audience over the head with a hammer to get it? I do still have confidence in the perceptive capabilities of people.


I don't know because UI don't know what "transforms himself" means.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Lon
Posted: August 5th, 2020, 11:58pm Report to Moderator
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My thoughts. Keep in mind these are just some observations I've made on your loglines, obviously having not read the actual script. If you find any of this helpful, great. Anything you don't find helpful, you're welcome to ignore.

That said...

I'm with eldave on "transforms" himself. It's too vague. Not to summarily dismiss the intelligence of every potential reader, but when attemping to convey an idea, you have to write to the dumbest person in the room. You want to intrigue the reader, not confound them.  Does this mean you have to hit them over the head with a hammer? No. It means you need to be concise and deliberate in your choice of words.

Let's look at your three examples:

In the 1987 post-cold war era, a nuclear holocaust can only be prevented by an amateur writer who has unwittingly triggered a chain of events that could lead to World War 3.

Why can it only be prevented by this one person? And how can he know how to stop it if he doesn't even know that he caused it?  Is "unwittingly" the right word?

I also agree with eldave that you should specify what kind of writer he is. I would assume he's some kind of political or military journalist, or someone of similar national or political clout. I can't off the top of my head envision a scenario where an amateur writer writes something that could lead to the end of mankind as we know it. But as a reader, I shouldn't be asking myself those questions. The writer is supposed to provide me with enough information that I can deduce, not so little information that I have to assume or guess. Again -- intrigue, don't confound.

In the 1987 post-cold war era, an amateur writer who has unwittingly triggered a chain of events that will lead to a nuclear holocaust must transform himself and become the only person that can prevent World War 3.

This one's a little better. Your protagonist sounds more active here. See how something as simple as the word "must" can add a whole new level to it? That's what I mean by "concise."  I'm a big fan of the word "must," and I use it often in my own loglines. It implies that your character is making a choice to face the challenge, it makes them sound assertive. One word, but it says so much.

But the question still remains, what kind of writer? And again, I'm left wondering how an amateur writer could unintentionally do something that could result in the deaths of billions.

And as eldave pointed out, I'm wondering what exactly "transform himself" is supposed to mean here.  To go back what I said about writing to the dumbest person in the room, I'd guarantee you someone would see the word "transform" in your logline and suddenly think this is a movie about robots that turn into cars. I'd find a better word there.

Unaware he has triggered a chain of events that will lead to a nuclear holocaust in the 1987 post-cold war era, an amateur novelist must transform himself and travel halfway around the world to prevent World War 3.

This one doesn't work at all. "in the 1987 post-cold war era" feels out of place, like you plugged it in as an afterthought.

Again, "transform himself" is too vague.

"Unaware" makes your protag sound like a dope. A dog is unaware that it is a dog. An infant is unaware that those things it keeps poking itself in the eye with are called "fingers." A protagonist cannot be unaware that his actions have consequences. However, that doesn't mean his actions can't have unforeseen  consequences. There's a difference between an irresponsible action and an honest mistake.

Did you know the original title of the Sam Raimi flick "Evil Dead" was "Book of the Dead"? A veteran distributor told Raimi to change the title, because it made it sound like the audience was going to have to read for an hour and a half.

Similarly, when I read the phrase "travel halfway around the world," I instantly envisioned tedious shots of our hero dozing in a plane seat, or staring bored out of a train window. Are you selling a movie about a guy who travels, or are you selling a movie about a guy who saves the world? Such scenes may very well appear in the movie itself, but you wouldn't use them in the trailer, know what I mean?  I'd either change that to something more active, or omit it altogether.

Summation: in general, I think you're being too on-the-nose. Remember that movies are actually about two things: you have the main plot, and then you have what the story is really about, which is the character. Your main plot may be about a race to stop a nuclear war, but what it's really about is the character's arc. His journey from an unwitting amateur to a world-saving hero.

You address that with the "transform himself" thing, but again, that's too vague.  Most movies are about a character transforming. Unless he's James Bond, he shouldn't be the same person at the end as he was at the beginning. What you need to do is give us more of a clue as to what this transformation entails. Instead of "transforms," something like "must rise to the challenge," or "must put his fear aside," whatever applies to his transformation.

Again, just my two cents. Good luck. Keep writing.
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MarkItZero
Posted: August 6th, 2020, 10:45am Report to Moderator
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I wouldn't worry about revealing twists in the logline. Just write the best one possible. If the actual script is good enough, the reader will be drawn into the story and forget all about what they read in the logline.

As others have said, transform is too vague. And it probably needs more on how the writer caused a nuclear crisis. I may be way off base, but it seems like you've got a mix of WarGames and Romancing the Stone.

If so, here's one way to go...

In the post-cold war era, a reclusive novelist who's writing has unwittingly glitched a Soviet nuclear supercomputer must become the daring international hero in his stories to prevent World War 3.


That rug really tied the room together.
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dm36415
Posted: August 6th, 2020, 11:55am Report to Moderator
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So much good guidance, can't thank all y'all enough!
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eldave1
Posted: August 6th, 2020, 12:29pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from dm36415
So much good guidance, can't thank all y'all enough!


My pleasure - good luck


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
Posted: August 6th, 2020, 12:30pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkItZero
I wouldn't worry about revealing twists in the logline. Just write the best one possible. If the actual script is good enough, the reader will be drawn into the story and forget all about what they read in the logline.

As others have said, transform is too vague. And it probably needs more on how the writer caused a nuclear crisis. I may be way off base, but it seems like you've got a mix of WarGames and Romancing the Stone.

If so, here's one way to go...

In the post-cold war era, a reclusive novelist who's writing has unwittingly glitched a Soviet nuclear supercomputer must become the daring international hero in his stories to prevent World War 3.


This one is quite good!


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Lon
Posted: August 6th, 2020, 5:06pm Report to Moderator
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I agree, that's solid as hell. That's what you should be aiming for, OP.
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dm36415
Posted: August 7th, 2020, 12:30pm Report to Moderator
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Well, it may be easier to rewrite my script to align to that logline (LOL)... but in the meantime, drawing on the structure, here's what I've put together.  Thoughts?

In the post-cold war era, a first-time novelistís writing has unwittingly triggered a code to detonate a nuclear weapon in the Soviet Union, can he rise up to become the man heís always craved to be to prevent World War 3?

It actually fits the plot quite well.
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khamanna
Posted: August 7th, 2020, 12:49pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from dm36415
Well, it may be easier to rewrite my script to align to that logline (LOL)... but in the meantime, drawing on the structure, here's what I've put together.  Thoughts?

In the post-cold war era, a first-time novelistís writing has unwittingly triggered a code to detonate a nuclear weapon in the Soviet Union, can he rise up to become the man heís always craved to be to prevent World War 3?

It actually fits the plot quite well.


the thing is you're not telling us how.

In the proposed by James logline the novelist 'becomes the daring international hero in his stories' - so we have a glimpse of the idea from it. Speaking for myself - that's the reason it appealed to me So, I think that's your main drawback - "how"
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dm36415
Posted: August 7th, 2020, 6:26pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from khamanna


the thing is you're not telling us how.

In the proposed by James logline the novelist 'becomes the daring international hero in his stories' - so we have a glimpse of the idea from it. Speaking for myself - that's the reason it appealed to me So, I think that's your main drawback - "how"


That's an interesting perspective, the "how" is that he transforms himself into different identities, but no one really liked the transformation concept in the earlier versions.
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eldave1
Posted: August 7th, 2020, 7:47pm Report to Moderator
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Not bad. I would time it a bit.

When a novelistís writing has unwittingly triggered a code to detonate a nuclear weapon in the Soviet Union, he must assume a secret identity in order to prevent World War III.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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