Posts

Showing posts from July, 2014

Logline 66 - The Soul and the Spirit

When a young West Virginia girl discovers she can communicate with spirits, she goes to Philadelphia to learn from her crazy shaman grandfather how to control them - before they start controlling her.

Logline 65 - Pyrowall

A young technomage is recruited by an ancient warlock to help him learn how to use computers in his magic; but when the warlock uses his new skills for wanton murder and destruction, she's one of the only people who can stop him.

We Have Guests!

By now you should've noticed that there are two new bloggers tied to this blog: Cassie, and Micah. They're going to be doing the rankings for me for this batch of loglines and treatments, and then hopefully for the future, too. Given that this is their first time, it might take a little while for them to figure out how things work, so be prepared for some oddities (like a blank post, or a full post coming up too early or something), and probably expect both rankings to be a little late.

Just figured I'd give you a heads-up!

 - Teddy

Logline 64 - 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.

Logline 63 - Tidal Shift

A weak, bored sorceress, tasked with defending a small beach town from fey incursions that are unlikely to ever happen, finds evidence of a large-scale invasion, and has to figure out how to stop it.

Logline 62 - The Lesser of Two Evils

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.

Logline 61 - The Prestidigitator

A small-time wizard who can't get any respect from the wizarding world tries to find fame by pretending to be a stage magician - but if anybody finds out his secret, the other wizards will literally have his head.

Weekly Theme: Hedge Witches

This week's theme is Hedge Witches - or really, just the idea of a low-key, individual spellcaster. So rather than a sorcerer that rules a nation, or a coven of witches who may or may not be nefarious, this is more on the level of a crazy old lady who knows how to deal with spirits, or a kid with a few magical talents that get him into trouble. Storm Front-level Harry Dresden, as opposed to Changes-level Harry Dresden.

Treatment 11 - The Child Queen

Now that I'm finally really starting to get a handle on my schedule, things are not just going smoother, they're getting smoother. Which is to say, I actually polished this treatment a little (not a lot, but a little) before posting it, which is pretty much a first. It's on the shorter side, but that's because I actually took the time to make it short by cutting out useless and extraneous information, rather than because I didn't write a lot (like in the past).

Ideally, I'll eventually reach the point where I'm write 4-5 page treatments that then get polished down to 3, but for now, this is a big step up.

The logline this was based off of: When the king dies and his ten-year-old daughter takes the throne, her chosen regent prioritizes his own happiness before the kingdom's health. The new queen must try to take command for herself, lest he ruin the kingdom before she has a chance to rule it.


Ranking Loglines 56-60

Image
Hopefully next week I'll start getting guest... rankers? Guest rankers in here to start doing this. Plus, next week I'm starting my Quality side of things to go along with the Quantity side, so that'll be fun.

I was going to say that we should thus celebrate this week, but really I think I'm basically saying this week is just boring and same-old, same-old. Sorry.

I think I'll spice things up with... a kitten picture!
Yeah! Kittens!

The loglines of the week are:

The Bad GuysA PMC, contracted to help defend a small South American country from its aggressive neighbor, suddenly gets more than they bargained for when the USA sides with the neighbor.The WarlordA tribal warlord, intent on uniting his people, must first defeat a rival warlord with the same idea.Street JusticeA police investigator wants to apprehend a vigilante superhero who's been cleaning up the streets, but sometimes killing people in the process.Losing a Winning WarA newly-crowned king wants to end a…

Logline 60 - An Innocent Criminal

When a mob boss starts transitioning his criminal empire into a legitimate business empire, a police detective who's been after him for years has to catch him before there aren't any more crimes to pin on him.

Logline 59 - Losing a Winning War

A newly-crowned king wants to end a war that he didn't start and has no interest in, but he's winning, and his people won't let him stop.

Logline 58 - Street Justice

A police investigator wants to apprehend a vigilante superhero who's been cleaning up the streets, but sometimes killing people in the process.

Logline 57 - The Warlord

A tribal warlord, intent on uniting his people, must first defeat a rival warlord with the same idea.

Logline 56 - The Bad Guys

A PMC, contracted to help defend a small South American country from its aggressive neighbor, suddenly gets more than they bargained for when the USA sides with the neighbor.

Weekly Theme: Antivillains

Everybody's familiar with the idea of antiheroes - a hero who lacks either the traditional skill, or more usually these days, the traditional moral fiber of heroes. And they're great! But an equally fun and somewhat less utilized concept is the antivillain - a villain who has a hero's moral fiber. So that's what I'm going to be exploring this week.

3-Page Treatment 10 - Adversary

This treatment ended up way longer than I expected. So technically, it's more like a 4-5-page treatment. But eh, if I let 2-page treatments slide under the label, I think I can allow this.

In case you couldn't tell from the length, I really liked writing this one, and it will almost certainly win every time it's compared to something else. Which is fine. It's great, really. Heck, I'll be even happier if it loses, because that'll mean I have something I love even more. But yeah no, this was a lot of fun to write, and I already love the characters.
The one, glaring problem with it? Two protagonists. That's a bad thing. That's just not something you do, and it could very easily end up crippling the project as it progresses. More likely, rather than downright ending things, though, I'll just eventually have to pick one protagonist to focus on, which is fine. I just feel arrogant enough to feel like I can pull it off well, which is probably not true. Sue…

20-Page Treatment 1 - Psycop

This is long. Long enough that I considered giving it its own page, rather than a post? But I guess if you're reading this, you know what you're in for.

Like I mentioned the other day, it's not 20 pages, and it's not great. But it is my first 20-page treatment, so I didn't really expect it to be. It's changed significantly since the 3-page treatment, which I'm okay with, because the changes had to do with a pretty deep problem - specifically, the lack of a antagonist. This current incarnation still doesn't have a phenomenal antagonist, but it does have one. So that's better, at least.

So yeah. It's rough and unpolished and kind of just bad and rambly. I'd probably prefer nobody read it. But it's finished, and the point of this blog is to keep me accountable, which just won't work if I only publish stuff I'm proud of, so here it goes.

Ranking Loglines 51-55

I think the first thing we can learn from this week's titles are that I apparently love titling things "The [Adjective] [Noble title]." I have, what, four if you include "The Cowardly King" from last week. Weird.

I mentioned in my post yesterday, but it bears repeating here, that I've been looking into ways to get other people to start doing these rankings. Right now it feels a little masturbatory. Getting someone else to point out the strengths and flaws of the loglines would be nice, because the trouble right now is that I can only catch the flaws I know about. If I'm unaware that, say, starting a logline with the letter "Y" is bad form, then not only am I going to write loglines that start with "Y," I'm not going to point it out and learn from it at the end of the week.

Expect that to start happening (at least intermittently) soon, but not immediately. I'd guess about two or three weeks. And hey, if you'd be interested…

Logline 55 - The Prodigal Princess

A princess who had set aside her titles and nobility returns home to lead the defense against the foreign country she had been living in.

Quality and Quantity

The idea with this blog, as I recently articulated in my new "What Is This?" page, is to teach myself to write well and quickly. I'll achieve this by writing quickly, a lot, until I eventually adapt to the process and the quality starts getting better.

This is largely a reaction to my last screenplay, which I wrote over the course of about two years. And it came out fantastic, don't get me wrong; the fact that it had two years of work shows. But I know if I want to make it as a professional screenwriter, I need to be able to produce faster than that.

So, because I'd just spent two years focusing on the quality half of the equation, I switched gears to focusing on the quantity. Both sides eventually lead into each other, if you do enough of it; if you write enough quality stuff, you're going to eventually do it quicker, and if you just write a whole lot of stuff, eventually it's going to get better.

Logline 54 - The Child Queen

When the king dies and his ten-year-old daughter takes the throne, her chosen regent prioritizes his own happiness before the kingdom's health. The new queen must try to take command for herself, lest he ruin the kingdom before she has a chance to rule it.

Logline 53 - Betrayal

When the king's youngest son leads a rebellion against the crown, the king struggles not only to put down the rebellion, but to figure out where he went wrong with his son.

Logline 52 - Unmarked Grave

An anthropologist investigates the events of Genghis Khan's life to find clues as to the location of his grave.

Logline 51 - The Servant Queen

After a violent coup, a young crown princess pretends to be a servant to escape notice as she plots her return to the throne.

Weekly Theme: Royalty

This week's theme is royalty! Kings, queens, nobles, maybe even presidents and senators - we're defining "royalty" pretty loosely here.

3-Page Treatment 9 - Dominion

I really liked writing this one, largely because, like I indicated early in the week, I've started experimenting again with different basic templates and structures. I really like using a deliberate act structure, rather than an implied one (like the writer's journey). I still used the writer's journey, but I rearranged, cut, and even multiplied different steps on the journey to make it fit with the five act structure I was using.

For reference, here's the logline I was using:

When a young warrior sets out to slay the dragon demanding tribute from the surrounding realm, she's shocked and slightly terrified to discover that the dragon is using the tribute to defend the realm from an invading draconic army... and the dragon needs her help.

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!

Logline 50 - Martial Peace

A 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.

Logline 49 - Murderer

A boxer retires after unintentionally killing his opponent, and tries to figure out why he fights - and if he ever wants to do it again.

Logline 48 - Adversary

In 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.

Ranking 3-Page Treatments 5-8

Whoops, getting this up a little late.

Before I get into this, I should talk about/decide how I'm going to go about ranking things in the future, given that I'll be making a corkboard every two weeks, a 20-page treatment every three, and a step outline every four.

I think I'm just not going to rank corkboards, so that's easy. But then for the 20-page treatments, I think I'll rank those... every so often? I don't really know. Maybe I just won't. Maybe I'll rank them whenever I need to decide which of two I'll be writing.

Also, I really need to pick another word than "rank." Because there's no ranking happening, never has been. It's never really even been the intention. Oh well.

Now, on to this month's treatments!

Logline 47 - The Cowardly King

A 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.

On Acts and Structure

So, I'm constantly fiddling with my outlining process, and especially with my 3-page treatment process. I've used all sorts of templates, I've gone completely without templates, I've made up my own templates... it's an evolving thing.

At the moment, I've been basing things on Christopher Vogler's steps in the Writer's Journey. I rearrange and omit some steps as a story calls for it, and I think I'm starting to move away from using it as a template, but it's still a wonderful tool. I think my favorite part about it is that it's not inherently tied to a three-act structure. I mean, sure, it fits in nice, but it's not required or even necessarily assumed.

Logline 46 - The Tiger on the Mountain

An 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. 

This Week's Theme: Martial Arts

Whether it's a story about a kung fu master, or just a protagonist with improbable hand-to-hand skills, the loglines this week will all feature some amount of martial arts.

3-Page Treatment 8 - Out of Date

Alright, this is not my best 3 Page treatment. Let's just get that out of the way from the start. But it is my first foray into comedy - and romantic comedy, at that. If only kinda. It's not a typical romcom.

For the record, I did swap the genders again, so the protagonist is now female. Maybe it's better, maybe it's worse, but I knew if I wanted to stretch myself as a writer, that's how it had to be.

Ranking Loglines 41-45

So, working with a deliberate theme was harder than I expected. Which is a little silly; of course it's going to be harder than just coming up with whatever I want. I guess I just assumed the restrictions would channel my creativity more than they actually did. Maybe I just picked too restrictive a theme? I guess we'll find out, because I'm not stopping.

Anyway, harder or not, I think I like what it resulted in. The loglines this week are all not awful, and most are at least a little unusual for me (though not all of them are horribly creative).

Let's take a look at them in detail:

Logline 45 - Patient Zero

When a zombifying virus, created as a weapon, infects a lab tech, the lead scientist has to scramble to stop the infection from spreading before it causes a full zombie apocalypse.

Logline 44 - Dominion

When a young warrior sets out to slay the dragon demanding tribute from the surrounding realm, he's shocked and slightly terrified to discover that the dragon is using the tribute to defend the realm from an invading draconic army... and the dragon needs his help.

Updating the Process

So, now that I'm nearing the deadline on my first step outline, I'm realizing some problems in the process I've set up.

For one, it's not a step outline. I never wanted it to be a step outline. It's just a twenty page treatment rather than a three page one. So I'm changing the name to reflect that.

Second, it's a lot of work. I don't mean that like it sounds; writing a screenplay is a lot of work. I don't have a problem with doing a lot of work. But the whole point of this dividing up of the process I'm doing on the blog is to break each step into smaller chunks. There are some there won't really be an easy way to do (like taking a step outline to a first draft), but I can at least make sure each step is as simple as it can be.

So, I'm splitting the step outline step into three different steps.

Starting two weeks from Saturday, I'll be making a storyboard from a treatment every two weeks (so one of every two treatments will get story…

Logline 43 - Smokeless Fire

When a young scientist accidentally discovers the existence of djinn, he struggles to prove that his findings are real - and to learn how to interact with the spirits.