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Ranking Loglines 46-50

Week two of themes, and I still like it. This week was easier than last week, but I think it's because the theme was (A) noticeably broader than last week's, and (B) on a topic I know more about, which is always gonna help.

With one exception, I also like week's loglines more than last week's. That's probably because of the same reasons, but also worth noting is that I just started a pre-logline routine, where I come up with three ideas every day. These are just raw ideas, unpolished. For example, the idea that become the Murderer logline was just "A boxer kills someone in the ring, retires."

Hopefully that's been helping with my loglines, rather than hindering, but I guess it'll be hard to know until I've been doing it for at least a few weeks, maybe months.

For now we can look at the loglines it led to this month!

The Tiger on the MountainAn aging investigative journalist desperate to prove the relevancy of her job goes undercover and takes classes from a revered kung fu master in an attempt to get a big exposé.
The Cowardly KingA cowardly young king is a puppet, manipulated by his advisers. But when he's sent to study swordplay in a distant court, he grows in confidence, and realizes that if he doesn't stand up for himself, his kingdom will fall.
AdversaryIn ancient times, a pair of prisoners from different cultures codify a system of combat techniques based on animals' movements, accidentally creating the first martial art. But when they use their skills to escape captivity and return to their peoples, they know that their greatest threats are now each other.
MurdererA boxer retires after unintentionally killing his opponent, and tries to figure out why he fights - and if he ever wants to do it again.
Martial PeaceA martial arts master who's hired to train the military's androids in hand-to-hand combat secretly teaches them when not to fight, as well.

The Tiger on the Mountain is just... not a movie. There's no conflict. There's the potential for conflict, sure, but nothing actual, either stated or implied. I guess that's hyperbole; there is some conflict implied. Namely, will the journalist get her big exposé? But that's still weak. It's got an okay mental picture, and little irony. Oh, and the title sucks, not descriptive or intriguing or anything.

Luckily, this logline was the outlier! The rest I like a lot more.

The Cowardly King is, to start, a solid title, both descriptive and intriguing. It's got a great mental picture, and there's fantastic irony in that the advisers' plan for getting rid of the king is what gives him confidence - noteworthy because it's positive irony, which is pretty rare for a logline. Like, normally the irony is working against the protagonist. I don't know if having positive irony is necessarily a great thing from a storytelling perspective, but anything unusual in writing is a plus. 

Adversary... the title is okay, but nothing spectacular. The story is what I'm interested in. Perfect irony, and a vivid mental picture. Alright, maybe those are strong adjectives, but still, it's very firm mental picture and irony. A strong logline, to be sure.

Murderer might be a little broad a title, but it's very intriguing, which makes up for it. The mental picture is a little hazy, though; there's a lot of potential for movie here, but not much of it is defined in the logline. The irony of a guy who fights for a living beating himself up over killing is strong, and as a plus, it's probably pretty low budget.

Martial Peace is probably the weakest of the four good loglines, but it's not bad. The logline is fun and oxymoronic, even if it's not very descriptive. The mental picture is pretty good, although I'd like the conflict to be a little more clearly spelled out. The irony is clear. 

I think its main weakness is that it's a little... on the nose? Just, when the logline alone comes across as preachy, you know the movie's going to be. And even when your intent is to preach a given message, you don't want your movie to come across as preachy. I might revisit this logline in a future week with a matching theme, see if I can't do a better job with it.

As for which one I'll be writing a treatment for... it's tough competition this week. It's clearly not The Tiger on the Mountain or Martial Peace, but the other three all intrigue me. I'm tempted to go Murderer, because I want to write more low-budget stuff, but I think of the three it hooks me the least. It's definitely a miniplot, according to Robert McKee's three plot categories, which can be tough to write and don't sell well.

Cowardly King is really good, but I think Adversary is just too solid a logline to pass on. So Adversary wins! Which is good. It definitely seemed like it'd be the most fun to write. I'm looking forward to it.

 - Teddy