Screenwriting : Conveying tone in a logline by Benjamin Grund

Benjamin Grund

Conveying tone in a logline

Greetings everyone! I find that often the kind of story I write lends itself to loglines that don't necessarily reflect the tone of the piece. For example, I'm rewriting a pilot right now that features an angel and demon teaming up with a wayward preacher to track down a dangerous criminal. The loglines I've tried for the script seem to give the impression that the story will be very campy and fun, while in reality the script is a very grounded supernatural take on a crime drama. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Kerry Douglas Dye

In a gritty underworld, a wayward preacher allies with and angel and demon to... When an accident-prone preacher gains two squabbling sidekicks -- one angel, one demon -- the resulting hijinks cause...

CJ Walley

I say walk away from it, I find there's something about staring at loglines that just sucks the creativity out of you. Go expose yourself to material of the same tone and hopefully your subconscious will start firing off ideas. Note down words or fragments of sentences that really appeal. Then get back in front of the computer and try again.

CJ Walley

That's not always true. While a logline should be concise, adding the right word can make the world of difference.

Liz Warner

Kerry's first one is a good start. Spell out the world at the onset to manage expectations. Good luck.

Bob Reynolds

A logline should be all things to all people, but most importantly to the reader who can/will do something with it. The best loglines don't necessarily have good scripts behind them. A good logline tells a journey for your lead character across some ironic spectrum of action or drama... that entices the reader to want more. "When a guy with erectile dysfunction meets the girl of his dreams, he implants a dildo into his body, a tale of love in the post-Facebook era..." It's "Romeo and Juliet" meets "Pinocchio."

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Nothing in your description of your log line suggests campy/fun to me. So perhaps it is word choice which is giving you a problem. I imagine that if you stick with 'an angel and demon teaming up with a wayward preacher to track down a dangerous criminal' and depending on what are the high points of the story, add a major difficulty they face (an angel and a demon ganging up on somebody sounds like that criminal will get easily squashed unless...), or a 'ticking clock', then no one (well, almost no one) would guess that it was comedy. A hint of the final challenge/ending might also work. The log lines which I've seen which suggest comedy contain words like 'bumbling', 'loser', etc. I'm thinking that if you avoid all words which even faintly suggest laughs, most people will not think you're going for comedy, because frankly pitching a comedy is an art in itself. (You really have to work hard to get comedy into a log line.) I hope that's of help.

Rafael Pinero

I agree with CJ, the right words make all the difference.

Leona McDermott

Agree. Each word is extremely important. The dictionary/thesaurus is your friend. Our interpretation of a word isn’t a substitute for the actual meaning. Practice makes your next effort better than the previous one. Good luck.

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