Screenwriting : Quick question about my logline by James Austin McCormick

Quick question about my logline

I have a short script (15 pages) in which someone believes there's an alien invasion but 3/4 in we realise they are actually delusional. The question is should I hint at this in the logline? The reason I ask is that I'm worried if I don't, anyone reading the logline will just view the script as a cheesy, one dimensional SF- when in fact it is more about mental health and PTSD.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.



James Welday

Hi Jim, I like your angle. I've run into this issue with my past loglines where I want to bury the surprise. May I suggest you try a few different versions (with both options), and see which one plays best?

Nick Assunto - Stage 32 Script Services Coordinator

You'll probably have to do a bit of a balancing act, and it's really based on where the script takes it. If the audience watching would think it's a cheesy sci-fi piece until the end of act two then it probably doesn't belong in the logline. But if you hint at it throughout, then you can hint at it in the logline probably just by saying your protagonist is delusional or a more subtle descriptor.

Melanie Collup

Could your logline include the fact that your character suffers from PTSD without revealing that the invasion is a delusion? That might be enough to suggest that the script deals with a substantial issue and is not "cheesy" as you said. It's hard to say without knowing your logline or your script. I agree with James that you might want to write some different versions, then read them to a few people and ask them what the logline suggests to them. That could help you nail down the logline that best communicates what your script really is.

Myriam B

James has a good point. Try many. You can also read some SF loglines to see the wording they use to intrigue, hint, tease. Feel the effect the SF loglines have on you, understand why they have that effect... and do better. ;)

Building the tension and the mystery is always stronger in my mind than the reveal. In your case, the reveal is that he is delusional but the tension is "what is going on, is he suffering from mental D or not, is he being played". Tease about the doubts that are creeping in...

Hope it helps, best of luck, let us know how it goes! Cheers :)

Kacee DeMasi

James Austin McCormick Is it similar to the Russel Crowe 2001 movie 'A Beautiful Mind' ?

Erik A. Jacobson

To me a far more interesting approach would be one similar to the Twilight Zone episode in which a delusional plane passenger imagined a creature outside his window tearing up the plane's wing. Not until the final shot of the plane's wing, after everyone disembarks, do we realize it was no delusion at all.

Doug Nelson

I'd like to see the script. I'll provide some critique/notes/opinions and anything I can, Thanx.

James Austin McCormick

Thanks everyone for taking the time to give their ideas. It's not like Beautiful Minds Kacee. I remeber that episode well, Erik, "Nightmare at 20,000 feet with William Shatner. James, yes I'm trying out several loglines. Melanie, I think you're right- tone it down but have a hint in there. Myriam, the reveal sort of works like the second plot point/ turning point- rather than everything being built around it.

Nick, yes- subtle hints is a good way to go.

Doug, thank you so much for the kind offer. I'll message you if that is alright.

James Welday

Best of luck! If you need any help, let me know.

Craig D Griffiths

I am a fan of putting everything in a logline. Focus on the main story for sure. If you have to leave a twist out, leave it out. But don’t intentionally leave something out thinking it is intriguing and this intrigue will make someone ask for your script. It will show them you can’t tell a complete story.

A man suffering from mental illness believes there is an alien invasion causing him to ....

Christopher Michael Lacey

I would always leave the twist out. Otherwise the longline would just tell the end of the story. The audience wants to go see the movie, or watch the TV show, because they mainly want to know how it ends!

Ken Korba

Given the genre and concept, this logline needs to have a cliff hanger at the end.

Charles W Gordon III

I'd leave it out, never give your twist away. That might be your moneymaker...Just say, "ALIENS INVADE, ONE MAN FIGHTS BACK. AS THE WAR INTENSIFIES, HE REALIZES, ALL IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS."...Let me just say, I would never judge a script as being cheesy just because of a logline, unless you purposely aim for it to be. But usually the cheese would occur when it's being developed into a movie or show. Then we see how it plays out on the screen...if I were you, I wouldn't stress. Figure out how you're going to talk to the right people about this script and pitch it the way you envision it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi, James. My two cents, I would suggest including it or hinting at the logline as mental health is what the story is really about.

You could do something like: Plagued by visions of an alien invasion, a young soldier questions himself or whether to warn others about impending doom.

Hope that helps!

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In