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Showing posts from August, 2014

Logline 91 - Rainbringer

After her entire family dies of starvation during a famine, a shaman summons and kills the spirit who had been withholding the rain, and takes the power of rain for herself. She finds, though, that these powers come with responsibilities - such as taking the spirit's place as a soldier in an upcoming war.

Weekly Theme: Epic Fantasy

Last week (well, two weeks ago) I did low-budget loglines, so this week I'm going to let myself splurge a little on the highest-budget movies around: epic fantasy! Note that "high budget" isn't the goal, here, so I'll allow myself to include not-quite-so-high-budget things, like modern fantasy, as long as it's still appropriately epic.

10-Page Treatment 3 - Adversary

The first thing you should notice here is that I'm officially bumping the page length down to 10 pages. After three treatments, all of which are in the 10-page range, I decided to embrace that rather than try to, apparently, completely change what I was trying to do.

Also, as long as we're talking about structure rather than content, I've been thinking it may be good to break up the 10-pagers somehow. Not, like, into chapters or anything. But maybe into acts? I don't know. It's just a lot of text to assume someone would read in one sitting on the internet. I'll think about it for the next one.

As for the treatment itself, I like it. I think it's the first of the 10-page treatments that I can say that without any reservations. I really like the way it came out. I still haven't picked a single protagonist, but if/when I do, it just means I'll have plenty of B-plot material. 
The logline: In ancient times, a pair of prisoners from different cultures cod…

3-Page Treatment 17 - The Lesser of Two Evils

This one wound up more interesting than I think I was expecting it to. I suspect part of that has to do with the way that I made magic inherently evil, fitting with the colonial New England setting. I don't know that I'd been expecting to write it that way when I started, and it's always fun when your writing surprises you. Typically it's the characters that do that, but apparently the setting is capable of it, too.

Here's the logline:
When a town falls under a dreadful curse, the local witch has to find the source of the curse before the town decides she's to blame and hangs her.


3-Page Treatment 16 - Mars or Bust

This week, Micah made exactly my choice, with Mars or Bust. I loved the idea as soon as I wrote it down, and I  loved it the entire time I was working on it. I don't know why, but I really enjoy... I don't even know what to call this genre. Imagination sci-fantasy. Like, kid books but taken the whole nine yards.

Basically, I just really enjoy the idea of a 12-year-old girl actually inventing a new type of spaceship.

Here's the logline:
When a 12-year-old girl invents a propulsion and landing system that will allow NASA to go to Mars, she refuses to sell it unless she'll be on the first ship there. 


On the difference between being fat and being big-boned

Yesterday's logline, To Live For, is big. Like, really big. Still technically only two sentences, but they're long ones, and at least one of them is kind of a run-on. I try to keep my loglines short; the vast majority are only two or three lines (on my screen, as things are currently formatted), but there are the occasional four-liners. I think a six-liner - like To Live For - is unprecedented, though. 

What gives? Did I just get lazy that day?

It's true, that is often the case for my longer loglines. Technically it's not laziness, but occasionally I'll have been working on a logline for half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, and I've got other things to do, so I just have to make do with one that's too long or has too much unnecessary information. 

But that's not the case for To Live For. It's just a big logline, and I can't make it any shorter without making it worse. It's not bloated. It's just big.

So what's the difference? How do I tell wh…

Logline 85 - To Live For

When her best friend, boyfriend, and twin sister all die in a car accident, an accomplished high school student joins a suicide club, and goes on a camping trip with them. Though the original intent is to jump off of a cliff after a weekend of relaxation, when she finds out the relatively petty reasons some of them want to kill themselves, she tries to convince the other members of the group that they should live - without convincing herself of the same thing.

3-Page Treatment 15 - Twice in the Same Stream

This treatment really supports having people other than myself picking the best loglines and treatments, because I really don't think I would've picked this logline, and I really like what it turned into. I am a bit afraid that, if not handled correctly, it could become a bit preachy, or at least navel-gazey, but the idea itself came out pretty well, I think. Thanks, Micah!

For reference, the logline is:
When something goes wrong with the first test of a ship capable of flying at relativistic speeds, the pilot returns to an Earth inhabited entirely by robots, centuries after humanity has died out.


Logline 81 - Kill Hitler

An eccentric billionaire finances a young scientific prodigy's attempt to build a time machine, on the condition that he be the first person to use it. The scientist has to unearth the billionaire's motives before she finishes the machine, lest he do something unethical or dangerous.

3-Page Treatment 14 - The Chosen One

Bah. I'm not pleased with this treatment. This was the first time I really felt like I just didn't have enough time to work on it. Though that's mainly because I had to go through several iterations before I figured out how I wanted to structure it. Was the twist a surprise ending? Was that the Ordeal in the middle of the story? Maybe it actually comes pretty early? And then is the Chosen One the protagonist the entire time, or is it someone close to her? Do they become enemies?

Most of the time, I finish a treatment on Wednesday or so, and then spend Thursday and Friday polishing it, or sometimes even just ignoring it and working on other things. This time, I spent probably two, two and a half hours on Friday - as much time as the treatments normally get in a week - redoing the entire second and third acts.

So the moral of the story is, this one is not incredible, and is very unpolished. But it's posted, dagnabbit, and it's not awful, either.

The logline it's …

Logline Rankings #73-78

This week's loglines center around what I think is one of the most interesting themes to explore: what makes us human? The cult classic Blade Runner is a great example of this theme done well. A lot of these loglines are quite interesting and strong concepts, but the two that jumped out at me the most are:

The Human Element
A young doctor replaces more and more of her body with cybernetics, in an effort to become a robot. Her decreasing humanity worries her superiors, peers, and patients alike, even as it allows her to perform her job better and better.

Twice Into the Same Stream
When something goes wrong with the first test of a ship capable of flying at relativistic speeds, the pilot returns to an Earth inhabited entirely by robots, centuries after humanity has died out.

The first one better exemplifies the question of what makes us human. But the second one is, I think, a more interesting story with lots of potential. It has a bit of a Planet of the Apes thing going on, as well a…

Logline 76 - The Computer

A company hires a computer genius to develop a sophisticated AI to govern its finances. But when the AI unexpectedly starts showing signs of self-awareness - and more troublingly for the company, ethics - its creator has to fight to stop the company from destroying it.

Logline 74 - NPC

When a game programmer accidentally creates true AI for one of his games, he struggles with whether or not he should release the game, given that the game itself is capable of suffering.

3-Page Treatment 13 - Black Magic Grandma

Whoops! Got the date wrong for the scheduling of this, so it's showing up now instead of Saturday. You'll also note that the logline ranking still isn't up; I'll get that one up as soon as I can, too.

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I don't normally think of myself as a comedic writer, so I was kind of glad that Micah picked this logline, and forced me to stretch those muscles. I think it ended up pretty funny, although who knows if that'd come through in an actual screenplay; I suspect I wouldn't be able to keep the humor up for that long, and I'd probably end up making it more of a tragicomedy or dramedy or something.

For reference, here's the logline:
A pair of empty-nesters get into black magic and witchcraft as a way to pass the time; but when they accidentally curse a neighbor to death, they have to find a way to break the curse before it can come to pass.


Fractals and Structure

Something that not only interests me about writing, but also serves as a helpful tool, is the idea of writing structure is a fractal. Fractals are actually (from what I understand) pretty complicated, but the way I'll be using the term is simple: a fractal is a structure which looks the same at every level of magnification.
So what do I mean by saying writing structure is a fractal? I'm referring, of course, to our old friend the three-act structure. I know I've railed on it a little in the past, but that's more to do with how it's been used, rather than what it is.

Logline 72 - City Mouse, Country Mule

A city girl, sent to stay with her rural grandparents, finds herself simultaneously falling for the preacher's virtuous son, and the local bad boy. As she's drawn into each of their worlds, she finds she's just as good at memorizing Bible verses as she is at selling drugs.

Weekly Theme: Subverted Clichés

This week, the idea is going to be to take cliché plots and hopefully tweak them into something creative again. I say "hopefully" because I'm afraid I'll really just end up smooshing two clichés together to make one megacliché. We'll see what happens!

Best Logline #61-66

This week's concepts are pretty interesting because it's an attempt to make something that's wild and mysterious (magic) into something a little more mundane. Personally, I like this approach from things; I enjoy seeing the huge wizard battles for the fate of the universe, but I also like to take the concept of something like witches and magic to its logical counterparts: what about the janitor who gets magical powers? How does this affect everyday life?

That being said, my favorite of this week's loglines is:

Black Magic Grandma
A pair of empty-nesters get into black magic and witchcraft as a way to pass the time; but when they accidentally curse a neighbor to death, they have to find a way to break the curse before it can come to pass.

I see this as a hilarious and creative dark comedy. I say comedy because of the mundane situation: two bored, older people decide to find a hobby to kill time, and that just so happens to be the dark arts. One of the things that makes t…

20-Page Treatment 2 - Edge of the Universe

I don't like consistently denigrating myself here, but I'm not crazy about this treatment. However, I'm willing to give myself a pass because it's at least as good as the last outline, and whereas the last one took me, what, six or seven weeks? This one I did in two, to kind of adjust the schedule I'm pumping these out in. So for two weeks, I think it's pretty good. Hopefully, the next one is twice as good!
Here's a link to the 3-page treatment this is based on, and here's the logline: A manned mission sent to explore the edges of the observable universe finds a primitive human colony, farther away than it should be possible for them to be. When their ship breaks down in orbit, they're forced to solve the mystery in order to return home.

Treatment 12 - Street Justice

I never did think of a better name. Oh well.
This one turned out short, but I think that's because it's a short movie. Or at least a simple one. I couldn't think of any ways to make it longer that weren't just meaningless padding.
I do like it, though, I like how it came out. It feels like it'd be fun to write. Probably because it was fun to write. Whatever.
The logline it's based off of: A police investigator wants to apprehend a vigilante superhero who's been cleaning up the streets, but sometimes killing people in the process.