Garcia, I appreciate your question.
The reason for the quick rejections is probably
because the producers are not adequately intrigued by
your log lines. I
look at many script log lines / premises for producers,
having to move quickly, and what I look for are fresh,
original, extremely creative ideas.
If I come across a premise that reminds me of a
hundred others, chances are I’m not going to give that
script much attention and continue to search for
something different than the norm.
Here’s an example:
I come across a query with a premise about a
corrupt detective in a small town who takes one last
case and goes after a serial killer, who turns out to be
somebody who has eluded him for years and has recently
surfaced and has targeted friends and relatives of the
Now that premise is not a bad one
and could definitely make for a thrilling read and film.
But I would most likely pass on it unless I knew
that the writer is a highly skilled screenwriter.
The premise, as sound as it seems for a
psychological thriller, does not “wake up my brain,”
and that’s what I’m looking for:
something that immediately has me thinking,
“Now that’s different.” Not only “different,” but
“engaging” needs to be in play.
So many writers are involved now
with convincing producers that their scripts are good
because of all of the twists, turns, reversals, double
twists, etc., involved.
Those changes in direction are fine and make for
compelling storylines, but, no matter how “twisted”
the script is, the premise is paramount.
That’s so important, I’ll put it in a big
Before you, the screenwriter,
decides on a premise, it’s helpful to look at premise
ideas from as many angles as possible, seeking the most
original and impacting one possible.
Concerning the one above and just playing with
some other ideas connected to it, here are some
possibilities that stem from letting the “imagination
A corrupt detective obsessed with finding a
serial killer who has eluded him for years, becomes a
serial killer in order to stop him.
A corrupt detective suspects that the serial
killer who has eluded him for years is his wife.
3. When a serial killer, who used
to be a detective and has been released from jail, is
hunted by an unknown serial killer who has been killing
the convict serial killer’s relatives and friends.
Do you notice how the three
possible alternative premises have a way of turning the
original one on its head or inside-out (or outside-in)?
Of course, regardless of how fresh
a premise, you want to create one that engages you.
After all, you’re the one who has to stay
interested throughout the screenplay to keep us
once you have your creative premise and you’re
thoroughly committed to that creative premise, you can
feel free to put as many twists in the storyline as you
it into a pretzel, for all I care (which brings me to
another big-font line):
PREMISE IS PARAMOUNT