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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

Is this a good logline?... They were here before anybody.  And now they're back again.


This week's answer: 

"Tagging" Along

Dorothy, I'm glad you contacted me.  

And I want to know who is "they."  And why they've come back.  And how did they get here before anybody else got here?  And where is "here"?

I appreciate your question.  I was going to cover this subject and your e-mail comes at an opportune time.  Or, in other words:

She had a question that he already wanted to answer.  And then she asked it.

Just thought I'd throw that tagline in.  And the above statement that resembles yours in its construction is actually that:  a tagline; not a logline.  But don't be alarmed or feel alone regarding this faux pas.

She made a faux pas.  And then made another.

Sorry.  Taglines can be addictive.  Where was I?

He liked taglines.  Taglines liked him.  And now he couldn't stop.

Sorry.  I said I wasn't going to do that anymore.  Many screenwriters seem to think a tagline is a logline (which is kind of odd since tags and logs are obviously such different things).  Taglines are pithy, general words created to get your attention, and usually to unsettle you.  (Sort of like the beginning of some commercials.)  Taglines normally create some level of anxiety, an anxiety that the movie almost subliminally indicates will be mitigated to some degree by seeing it.  (At least we'll know what the horror is that's lurking in that deserted hotel.)  Loglines are specific words that tell what the script is about, who the protagonist is and what his or her major challenge is.  The logline is the premise, the foundation of the story.  The tagline is tagged onto the script normally after it has been written.  It's the answer to the screenwriter's question, "Now, let's see.... How can I get a producer/agent/manager/investor/my uncle who knows somebody in the "business," all of whom don't like to read (like most people today), to want to read my script?"  Or "What saying can I come up with so it looks like my script is already a movie?"

You see, what I've found lately when I receive query letters from screenwriters is that most of them are in such a rush and want to move right away to the results before they cover the ABC's.  Many of them have decided what actors they want in the movie -- which is still only a script -- and how much money it will cost, and what the demographic is, and all the "attachments" they have going, and on and on they go.  What they seem to be missing, the ABC's, are things like proper grammar, structure, formatting, punctuation, spelling, etc., and loglines (that actually tell what the story is about), and, instead, they just want a producer to read a script because of some clever, general, often unsettling statement.

Heck, I see those all the time when I open my bills.     


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