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Test Your Story Idea with Other Screenwriters on Logline It!

07.11.12 @ 11:00AM Tags : , , , ,

Writing a screenplay takes a lot of time, energy, caffeine and self-flagellation. Before you start writing, you need to know if your story idea is going to work with an audience. That means you need to pitch it and get feedback. While someday we hope to have a producer’s undivided attention hanging on every word we say, we need to find an audience for our pitches now before we waste a lot of self-flagellation on a script that nobody wants to read. Friends are good for listening to pitches (they watch movies, right?), but fellow writers are even better if you can find them. Say hello to Logline It! – the world’s only site dedicated to loglines for film (according to their motto). Here are the details on how it works:


After registering on Logline It!, writers can post their loglines. For the uninitiated, a logline is a one-sentence pitch for your story idea (Logline It! has a nice summary of the key elements of a logline). The site asks that each user review at least two loglines for every logline he or she posts. Since everybody has time to read one sentence, reading and commenting on two loglines is an incredibly low price to pay to get feedback on your own logline.

Once you have received multiple comments on your logline, you pick the most helpful comment, awarding that user brownie points. That makes the user feel super awesome for the day, and hence more likely to comment on future loglines.

Each week, the Judges comment on selected loglines. The Judges are a panel of filmmakers and screenwriters connected with The Story Department, a blog dedicated to the craft of screenwriting written by Karel Segers, who also runs Logline It!

Got a logline you need to test? Want to see how others pitch their stories? Check out Logline It! And don’t forget to share with the NFS community how you approach loglines and pitches in the Comments section.

Link: Logline It!

[via The Story Department]

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I think you either have a good concept or you don’t. If you have a good concept, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s good, you don’t need to self-flaggelate, you will be carried along on the wings of your own story. Go ahead and finish it, there will be plenty of time to tinker and polish the specific 25 words you pitch it with.

    If you don’t have a good concept, all that site will do is give you pointers on how to write with more clarity, brevity, and punch, and some time-honored chestnuts on “what Hollywood wants.” What Hollywood wants is good concepts that have become good scripts. The logline just makes that more visible.

    I think that site is good as a nutshell exercise in concept and writing for people still exploring those skills, but I wouldn’t put it forward as a practical tool for a professional screenwriter to market-test their concept. What it does do is make evident why so many scripts are worthless. The wannabe screenwriters just aren’t very good at thinking or writing. They are relatively dull couch potatoes seized with their own fantasies.

    • +1. After reading two months worth, I can only conclude that this site is a collection for would-be writers who have never had an original moment, much less completed thought, in their lives.

      • Hey CP – Dang, you must have been reading the few dozen loglines of Australian government-funded projects we reviewed. I am with you, they suck!! We use them to point at the weakness of the concepts, so our readers don’t make the same mistakes.

        But for the others: feel free to share your superior mind and help others to see the light.

    • Peter, you make a few great points. Of course it all starts with the concept – but a brilliant logline can indeed make a mediocre concept sound good in the same way a brilliantly written script improves the perception of the story (The Disciple Program, anyone?).

      “If you have a good concept, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s good”? Yes you do. And first you need to shout louder than the crowd with their crappy concepts, which is why you need to learn how to compress that concept into a working logline.

      “site is good as a nutshell exercise in concept and writing for people still exploring those skills”. Absolutely right and we’re not ashamed of it.

  • how’s about losing your idea because someone else, gets “inspired” by your logline?

    • Rev. Benjamin on 07.11.12 @ 2:50PM

      Exactly what I was thinking. Why put your potentially un-copywritten work out there for anyone to cherry pick from for ideas to get “inspired” from?

      • Because if your idea is truly original, you’re the only one who could ever write it. Otherwise you’ll be writing cliches, and anyone can do that. If you’re not familiar with it, read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder – I think he makes a really good point in this discussion a paperback version is like 20$.

        • I agree Robert. And yes, STC is the best book on concept. Period.

          Other reasons why I don’t think there’s harm in posting:
          - If you have thought about your story before you write the logline, you’re well ahead of the competition and should be able to deliver the script first.
          - If you don’t first learn what a great concept is, you won’t know if you have it. And you may be desperately protecting a dud.
          - The logline is not the script. As some competitions prove, the same logline can be executed in many ways, so in fact by writing a logline you are not giving away your – copyrightable – way of telling this story.

          I hope this helps.

          • And Karel, I’m aware you’re on this thread and I gather this is your baby. I want you to realize my critique of the concept behind logline it isn’t a personal attack, of course.

          • Save The Cat is the best book on concept? Hmmmm.

          • Okay Will, if Bill Martell had proofread his Idea Machine, it would have outclassed STC – LOL. Any better alternatives? Admitted, I don’t read everything. I prefer analyzing and learning directly from movies that work – and don’t – rather than reading about screenwriting theory.

          • Hi Karel,
            just wondering if you have the option of deleting your logline post. This should be an option, no? Just in case you’re not comfortable with it being out there longterm.

        • “Because if your idea is truly original, you’re the only one who could ever write it.” Respectfully, this is absolute nonsense. I can have a totally original idea, post the logline/description on loglineit, and some clown could take it in a very similar direction to mine. Then it comes time to register with the wga/copyright, and they recieve a script entitled “Space Clowns” and “Clowns from Space” (humor me). The idea thief/studio gets their script in before I get mine in, the story and idea – albeit different in context – is theres.

          This is worst case scenario, but bottom line… make some friends who are writers! People you can trust, vs “the anonymous cloud”. And sure, read paint-by-numbers Blake Snyder in passing, but first read Robert McKee, Syd Fields, and William Goldman.

          Just not worth the risk.

          • Princeemmanuell on 07.12.12 @ 5:58PM

            You’ve painted it and repainted it: logline it is a good idea and a very dangerous idea. It’s a perfect place for the connected to steal ideas.

  • Writing a concise logline can really help in a pitch meeting so having an outlet to get feedback from fellow writers to me is a very good thing.

  • Thank you so much, Christopher, for posting this article.

    A note to future reviewers: your first comments are moderated, so don’t fret if they don’t show up immediately. I usually approve comments at least once a day. After that, any further reviews appear immediately.

    Happy loglining!

    • Christopher Boone on 07.11.12 @ 9:09PM

      My pleasure. Glad you could join the discussion and explain logline.it further.

  • Fellow blogger Emily Blake posted an article about loglines today as well: http://t.co/mm0U5cz2.
    And readers of ScriptShadow and GITS will know how much importance those guys give to loglines, too.

  • Loving the “debate” people are having. I agree with both sides. I think this is a great way to help polish people’s pitching skills. I do agree with the other side that a logline shouldn’t be the indicator for if you have a good concept. A great seller can pitch a terrible idea and make it sound awesome. So basically I think you should write your script if in your heart you feel it’s a great concept. I also think this service is great when it coes to the “selling” part. You have to package that idea in a logline to hook people.

    Hopefully people get what I’m saying. I agree with both sides.

  • Peter- while we post our loglines, and constructively advise on other’s loglines, we do share our opinions on concepts, as well. I disagree with the thought that a great logline can be made of a bad concept. STC shows you that one needs to start with a logline before proceeding with the screenplay. The logline is your compass. It may change along the way, but you really should have a direction down.

    Another reason to share the logline is because it WILL eventually uncover a bad concept, or development issues down the road. It will save you a lot of time and heartache if you start with a good logline, and it is deemed good by other writers. If you are worried about anyone “stealing” an idea inspired by another’s logline, well, then, you’re just not a writer. You’re a hobbyist.

    And, CP? Are you sure you’re on the right site? I see a lot of great concepts, albeit some of the loglines need help. That, my friends, is its purpose- to offer help.

    • Well I appreciate all the time and thought and support you give others on that site SEM.

      I also appreciate STC and the idea that there is a best way to write a movie. And I reject it as being “the law.” One of the biggest pitfalls a creative person can succumb to is the idea that things must be done in a specific order. A great movie can be written front to back, back to front, or in random order of scenes stiched together postfacto. Character bio’s? Absolutely, never, maybe. The logline can be written a year before or a year after or in the middle, or by someone else who reviewed the script and thought of a good way of putting it. Anything goes in art.

      It may even be better to not have a good logline or a good title at all until you’re done. Why? Because having those strengths from the outset gives you reassurance you are doing something good, but only in a superficial way. You will get congratulations from everyone you talk to on how brilliant your concept is, but where you really earn your pay is in the depths of the details. An inventor who wishes to build a better mousetrap will do themselves a disservice by focusing on what would be the slickest corporate logo before figuring out how actually to catch mice.

      It’s relaxing in a way to have a formula spelled out for you, to always know what you need to do next, to treat creativity as if it were working out in the gym every day. If that works for you, please go ahead and be certain of your regimen. But a lot of the most creative people can’t adapt their creative dynamic to someone’s rational plan. And they shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are doing it wrong.

      Making bad art is doing it wrong. Come up with, and finish, something brilliant…whichever way you skinned, or saved, the cat…that’s doing it right, and any number of people can help you package and sell something really worthwhile in a matter of minutes.

  • Great post, Chris. Thank you. I think one of the key things that this site beings is the concept of reviewing loglines and finding ones that really speak to you. I think this provides a great insight into what makes a “good” log line – since that, really, if the first hurdle. As far as theft, why put something on the site that you’re already working on? WHy not use the site to flesh out ideas, find out that they are derivative, etc. I read a legal artucle last night on the implications of privacy laws on neural implants (like cochlear implants, etc.) and thought – there’s a movie in there! My wife said “hmmm, maybe” – but if I can think about it enough an dput together a logline – I can share and see where, on my list of screenplays-I-Want-to-write list, it should place. Think of it as a testbed for “is this really wroth my time” projects

  • I would only use this site after my script is done and registered. While it is not a good idea to be paranoid when sending scripts to studios, it is a also not a good idea to put your unwritten concept up on the web. Stealing from the internet is done anonymously and you can’t copyright an idea, only the realization of that idea can be copyrighted.

    This site is a good way to perfect your logline, but not until you have the story written. If you want to find out if your story is worth writing, ask some honest friends.

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