Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Writing about mistakes isn't that much fun, but nevertheless, here's another edition of spec script mistakes and this time about loglines.
I don't think there's anything easier than writing a logline that is at least okay when it comes to its quality. Even when the script otherwise is going to suck, the logline usually won't be the thing that lets the cat out of the bag.
That is because your logline is just a logline. It's something that doesn't give away every beat of the story, it doesn't give away your writing style and usually doesn't give away your ability to deliver or not to deliver.
It just requires you to give the reader some information about your script and your story threads. So it's basically a sure thing.
Like for example on Modern Family, description for one of the storylines could be as simple as Claire not believing that she's good enough as a parent. That's simple, logical, makes sense and kinda gets you in the mood and ready for the read.
Or maybe on Entourage Turtle finds about an interesting business opportunity (with person x about thing y). That makes sense, right? Logical, simple, doesn't confuse you and etc.
Or maybe on 30 Rock Jack Donaghy feels that he needs a heir to the throne. Again, simple and clear.
So it seems that it's very hard to write a bad logline and that at the very least it takes spectacular lack of talent to do that. But unfortunately it indeed is possible to write an incomprehensible one.
I found one when I was doing some due diligence, digging up information on a certain writer and his certain spec script. The script that he (or she) wrote was for Two and A Half Men.
The logline is: "Alan bets he can date a new woman every week for longer than Charlie can date the same woman".
Loglines should always be 100% unambiguous. I don't know about you but this logline gives me a headache and is confusing even though it shouldn't be.
This logline can mean two things: First, Alan keeps dating different women every week whereas Charlie tries to stick to the same girl as long as possible.
Doesn't really make sense (if you go through the logical process) so we have to go for our option number two.
In that case it means that they fight for the same girl which unfortunately in the context of the show's premise doesn't make that much sense. Yet I guess we can assume that this is what the writer meant here.
But in that case the logline should have been something like this: "Alan thinks that if he and Charlie fight for a girl's attention, Alan is going to win".
I hope that's clear and simple enough and doesn't leave room for interpretations. Because there really shouldn't be anything that confuses the reader.
I'd honestly be rather surprised if any intelligent script reader was actually willing to read past that logline.
The weird twist here: this logline and spec script actually managed to win the 2009 Scriptapalooza sitcom competition.