Only six days until we start writing a screenplay and I know a lot of you want to kill me for not getting back to you on your loglines yet. The reason it’s taking so long is because 7 out of every 10 e-mails results in me giving all five loglines a 3-rating or lower and I feel like if I only leave the writer with numbers and no explanation they’ll hate me with every fiber of their being. So I always try to add a little comment here or there. “This is too familiar.” That’s what’s taking so long. I’ll continue to go through them as fast as I can, but maybe I just need to skip the comments and do ratings only, even if it drives some of you to build Scriptshadow VooDoo dolls to stick pins into.

Today, to help you get a little better understanding of what’s going on in my head, I’m going to share some of the loglines that were sent in, the ratings I gave them, and the reason for those rating. Hopefully this helps, especially if I’m not able to get to your loglines before next Thursday.

Title: The Angel of the North
Genre: Black Comedy
Logline: A gambling addicted PI loses the ransom on his way to a kidnap exchange and now must get the victim back without any money.
My rating: 4
My thoughts: This logline is messy. “A gambling addicted PI” is an inelegant phrasing that already has me worried, and we haven’t even gotten to the second half of the logline yet. The “ransom” is then brought up before I know what the ransom is referring to. Not a huge deal, but it required me to read the logline twice to make sure I understood everything, which is never a good thing. And then the final phrase kind of limps onto the page. “…get the victim back without any money.” I feel like there’s a more powerful way to say this. I like the elements involved but nothing here feels that original, and with the clunky presentation, I couldn’t give this more than a 4. Still, a “4” is better than most loglines got!

Title: Medium Rage
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Logline: When a young medium gains popularity by channeling hilarious crude jokes from a deceased comedian, a virtuous young woman decides to out the arrogant psychic as a fraud, since the comedian’s routines were always secretly written by her.
My rating: 2
My thoughts: It took me three full reads to understand this logline, and even then, I’m not 100% sure I got it. This seems to be a classic case of “too wordy.” But even then, the story seems to go on one beat too far. The young random whistle-blower was also secretly writing jokes for the person who is now being stolen from by the medium-turned-comedian? That’s way too complicated. Remember one of the key pieces of advice I told you yesterday, guys. Keep it simple!

Title: Untitled
Genre: Sci-Fi
Logline: On her way home from college, a free-spirited student disappears into thin air. When she reappears 5 years later having not aged a single day, she must not only attempt to reintegrate into her life, but also avoid the rogue scientists responsible for her disappearance in the first place.
My rating: 5
My thoughts: This logline has some marketable elements to it. People who reappear five years after a disappearence can lead to a good story. The reason it only got a 5, though, is because a) there was an entire flurry of “reappear after ‘x’ years” TV series that hit the marketplace recently. And b) the term “rogue scientists” killed the logline’s earlier momentum. Not only did it come out of nowhere, but the adjective “rogue” seemed to be apropos of nothing, always a red flag in my experience. All adjectives should be relevant to the rest of the logline.

Title: Wyldefire
Genre: Thriller
Logline: With the overbearing sheriff taken ill and a raging wildfire closing in, deputy Wylde vows to step up and protect the townsfolks’ homes from a gang of looters.
My rating: 6
My thoughts: It may not have received the coveted “7” rating, but Wyldefire has some good things going for it. It’s a simple easy-to-grasp concept and one I can totally imagine the movie for. The key conflict driving the movie – looters taking advantage of a wildfire to steal from innocent people – is interesting. I don’t know why we have another random adjective describing a character (the sheriff), though, when he appears to be a non-factor in the story. Then we have our hero, Deputy Wylde, who doesn’t get an adjective at all. But hey, the rest of the elements keep this idea strong. It’s no home run, but I didn’t give out a whole lot of 6s.

Title: The Extra Mile
Genre: Adventure
Logline: Stuck at the US Customs in Mexico for a technicality, an amateur marathon runner decides to cross the border illegally through the Sonoran desert in order to deliver a rare antivenom for his dying son.
My rating: 2
My thoughts: This one is rough. The beginning of the logline indicates our character is being held somewhere. This is followed by that same character running across a desert. How can he run across a desert if he’s being held somewhere? I see no point in mentioning that the runner is an amateur. Every word you add has the potential to gum up your logline. So get rid of anything that can be gotten rid of. The climax of a dying son who needs a rare antivenon (did he get bit? if so, when? I didn’t see it) not only comes out of nowhere, and feels forced, but seems like it belongs in a different movie. This is a classic case of too many disparate elements in the same logline. There’s too much going on here in general. Keep it simple, guys!


OMG, we only have a WEEK before we have to start writing our script! And most of you still haven’t come up with an idea that’s even close to being script-worthy. So today’s post is dedicated to supercharging your concept and coming up with a great logline.

The biggest problem I seem to be running into is writers who think splashy movie-friendly elements on their own equal a good idea. So by merely saying, “Five aliens arrive on earth and search for a vampire who they believe possesses the key to saving their planet,” that they’ve come up with a good idea. And why not? Hollywood loves aliens. They love vampires. Do you really need anything else?

Well, yes. Coming up with buzzwords (aliens, zombies, sharks, time-travel) isn’t difficult. Nor is placing two of them in the same sentence. I’m pretty sure all you have to know is how to type to pull that off. A good concept consists of manipulating elements into a storyline that sounds intriguing. “A professor who moonlights as an archaeologist must beat a determined Hitler to one of the most elusive and mysterious artifacts in history, the powerful Ark of the Covenant.”

The second biggest mistake is loglines that have way too much going on in them. The number of elements is endless, and the point of the movie seems to change several times during the logline. “A young wannabe ninja joins “Hitman Incorporated,” a school that teaches young men and women how to be hit men, but when he gets his first assignment, it ends up being a circus performer who used to be his best friend, so he will have to seduce the performer’s boss, who also happens to be the Hairy Woman, to help him pull off a fake hit, which ends up saving the circus in the process.” The scariest thing about this logline is that everyone is thinking how ridiculous it is, and yet at least 60% of you have sent me a logline similar to it. Loglines need to be simple. Loglines need to be focused. This is neither.

The third biggest mistake is, strangely, the opposite of the second. The logline is too simplistic and has NO HOOK, so it ends up reading like a bland TV episode. “When new evidence emerges in the death of an NYPD cop, his son plots revenge on the gangsters responsible, against the wishes of his fiancée and his father’s ex-partner.” Cops, revenge, gangsters? Gee, I haven’t seen that before. Where is the hook? Where’s the “strange attractor?”

The biggest violator of this tends to come from road trip ideas for whatever reason. I get a lot of stuff like, “A young man, still recovering from his mother’s death, takes a cross-country trip with his brother to heal.” Uhhhhhh, I’d volunteer to join that mother in her coffin before reading this script. Come on, guys. There isn’t a single original element or hook in this concept!

Remember, movies have to be bigger than life. There’s got to be something unique there, either in the concept itself or in the execution of the concept. For example, let’s rework the road trip logline. “A young man, grieving from his alcoholic mother’s death, must pick up his troubled sister from an addiction program and drive her cross-country to the funeral.” Conceptually, it’s no Jurassic Park. But now we can see a bit of a movie here, right? Obviously, the younger sister suffers from the same issues the mom had, so this trip becomes about saving the sister before she ends up like her mom. There’s more MEAT there to work with.

Next up are re-dos of past movies. While I kind of understand how this mistake can be made (writers are told to come up with ideas that are “familiar but different”), I’d advise against ideas that sound, in any way, similar to past movies, or similar to past movie types. It’s always better to be more unique than more similar. Let me explain that in more detail. Let’s say you come up with an idea about a shark that terrorizes a small Italian town. You’ve just written Jaws in Italy. Is that unique enough? No. Or I’ll get stuff like, “A group of space explorers crash-lands on an icy planet where a local alien species starts hunting them.” Come on! That’s Alien or The Thing.

You also want to steer clear of common movie TYPES unless you’ve found a fresh element to add. For example, do you really want to write another “group of people stuck in a log cabin with zombies movie?” Even if you tweak something here or there (maybe the occupants are trained hunters!), it still feels similar enough that people are going to go, “Eh, I’ve seen that before.”

Okay, so now that we’ve established what you SHOULDN’T be doing, let’s focus on what you should. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for your next logline.

1) An idea that feels simple and easy-to-grasp.
2) Some sort of unique element must be involved.
3) The story must feel big and important.

1) An idea that feels simple and easy-to-grasp – So many of the loglines I’ve received are agonizingly complex. Guys, you need to find that simple idea that people are able to grasp immediately. Here’s a recent Black List entry: “An underwater earthquake decimates a research crew at the bottom of the ocean, leaving two survivors with limited resources to ascend 35,000 feet before their life support runs out.” We all know what that movie is about at the snap of a finger.

2) Some sort of unique element – “Unique” is subjective, which is where this tip runs into trouble. What’s unique to you may not be unique to me. But the idea is, as an aspiring screenwriter in this business, you watch every movie and keep tabs on every script that sells so that you know, better than the average schmuck, when you’re introducing a truly unique element into the mix. That element can be the main idea – bringing dinosaurs back to life in modern society. Or it can be the way the idea is executed. Memento is a whodunnit detective caper. We’ve seen that a million times. But it’s executed in reverse. That’s a unique element.

3) The story must feel big and important – I’m not saying you can’t write that lesbian coming-of-age movie. What am I saying is that you better know someone with a million bucks in their bank account because that’s the only way that script is getting made. If you barely have enough money to pay your rent each month like the rest of us, think bigger. Think larger than everyday life. The absolute lowest level of “big” is a dead body. You can tell a small town tale if there’s a dead body involved. But I’d think bigger. I’d think high stakes. Give me the kind of thing I can’t get anywhere else but in the movies.

Okay, with that in mind, here are five common loglines that always seem to do well. If you’re writing one of these guys, you’re in good shape.

1) The mega-hook – Think Steven Spielberg for the mega-hook (or, the lower rent versions, Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich). The kind of idea that feels like a Friday night crowd-pleaser. Give me your Nazi-fighting archeologists, your modern-day dinosaurs, your Roboapocalypses, your Ready Player Ones, even your children befriending aliens.

2) The unique horror hook – Give us a unique setting or a unique setup for your horror film and these specs sell like hotcakes because the budgets are so low. “A woman revisiting the old orphanage she grew up in loses her child, and begins to suspect that he may have been taken by the souls of the children still living there.” (The Orphanage).

3) Larger than life real-world people – We all know that biopics are hot, but even when they inevitably calm down, larger than life figures will always be intriguing to the movie-going public. Think Wolf of Wall Street. Somebody who either has a lot of personality, a lot of character, or who has a lot of shit going on. Also big right now are REAL LIFE EVENTS. How the big crash went down (“The Big Short”) or how an astronaut drove halfway across the country in diapers to kill her boyfriend’s wife (the upcoming “Pale Blue Dot”).

4) Overtly zany dark comedies – The Black List has ensured that these scripts will always be celebrated, will always be seen as cool by the reader crowd, and therefore are always solid picks from a conceptual standpoint. But you have to be weird to pull them off. Living inside John Malkovich’s head. A puppet serial killer. A therapist who manipulates his patients to commit suicide. Weird, twisted, and funny is the key to doing these well.

5) A well executed ironic logline – Guys, this is the EASIEST way to make your logline stand out from the rest. Place your main character in an ironic situation and you have invented logline nirvana. Look, I’ll just come up with one off the top of my head: “The world’s greatest shark hunter finds his boat slowly sinking inside the most shark-infested waters in the ocean.” The un-ironic version of this would be, “An opera singer finds his boat slowly sinking inside the most shark-infested waters in the ocean.” Reads a bit different, no? Yet I see SO MANY SIMILAR UN-IRONIC loglines that would’ve been so much better had the writer used irony.


Okay, now that you’ve got your idea, you have to write your actual logline. And this is where everyone freaks out. But I’ll save you some anxiety. If you can’t come up with a well-written logline, chances are you don’t have your idea yet. In other words, it means you have to go back to the drawing board. A good idea should be easy to convey. Because all good ideas are. Think about it. When was the last time a good movie idea took 20 minutes to explain?

So I’m going to give you two basic tips to help you turn your golden idea into a golden logline…

1) KEEP IT FUCKING SIMPLE – The more words you add to your logline, the bigger the hole you’re digging for yourself. A logline is like a mini-script, where all the fat needs to be cut out. Only tell us what we need to know. And what we need to know is the main character, the hook, and what’s in his way (the major source of conflict). Mileage may vary with unconventional ideas (Pulp Fiction, for example), but that’s where you start.

2) KEEP IT FUCKING PERSONAL – I prefer loglines that center around the main character. We’re human beings. So we identify with other human beings. The more impersonal your logline is (if it focuses on things as opposed to people), the less connected I am to it. So yes, that submarine logline I included above, while solid, doesn’t meet this criteria. To this end, find that preceding adjective or descriptive phrase that sells the emotion of the hero. For example, with E.T., I could start my logline, “A boy befriends an alien…” or I could say, “A lonely boy befriends an alien…” You see the difference? We feel more of an emotional connection to a lonely boy than we do to a generic boy.

With all of this in mind, here are few loglines to inspire you:

When a refined man of science is recruited to investigate a recent spat of killings in the recovering town of Salem, he must fend off growing resistance from the intensely religious locals.

When the president of the United States and his immediate chain-of-command are killed in a terrorist attack, the cabinet’s weakest member is vaulted into the highest office in the world to take his place.

When his survivalist father is sent to prison, a militant teenager raised in seclusion must enter society for the first time, where his father instructs him to plot an attack against the government.

A woman being kept in an underground shelter by men claiming the outside world is infected, must figure out a way to escape when she discovers evidence that the men may be lying.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: An innocent Uber driver’s night is turned upside-down when a crotchety old cop ropes him into a plan to get revenge on the criminal who killed his ex-partner.
About: This script sold for mid six-figures a couple of weeks ago and appears to have been a group effort. The writer, Tripper Clancy, conceived of the idea with his manager, Jake Wagner, and then had help writing the script from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the “Horrible Bosses” writers who are writing the next Spider-Man movie.
Writer: Tripper Clancy
Details: 109 pages


The drive to get an Uber movie made is going to be an interesting one because in addition to Stuber, another Uber project was sold, that one a pitch. The bad news for Stuber is that that project has Will Ferrell in the lead role, and usually if you’re in a competing project with Will Ferrell, it’s game over. Unless, of course, you have a portly 35 year old female main character as your lead and Melissa McCarthy’s home phone number.

But Stuber’s lead is a young black man, making me wonder if this is a Kevin Hart project in the making. Of course, wasn’t Kevin Hart just in Ride Along 2, which, in many ways, is a similar premise? One would say yes, but then one would remember that Kevin Hart will be in just about any movie as long as you can write an 8 figure check. So who knows.

Stuber starts out with 50-something hard-nosed detective Vic Manning losing his partner while trying to catch the pre-eminent drug dealer in Los Angeles, the Columbian kingpin, Carolina Santos.

Cut to a year later, all 365 days of which Vic has used to hunt down Santos. But the bizatch is nowhere to be found. So isn’t it lucky that Santos reappears on the day that Vic just got Lazik surgery on his eyes and can barely see.

Enter Stu. Stu is just your average dude, trying to make an extra buck as an Uber driver so he can pay for that 1.7 karat ring for his beautiful girlfriend and make their union official. Doesn’t matter that she makes him check in with him every 30 minutes and also uses “Find my Phone” to make sure he is where he says he is at all times. Oh no, those are totally healthy signs in a partner.

Vic hops into Stu’s Uber just as Stu was about to call it a night. As you’re likely realizing, Vic needs Stuber as his eyes and wheels since he can’t see or drive himself. Stu is so not down with this, but the Most Interesting Man in the World clone tells him to grow some balls and drive him to where he needs to go, despite not understanding that Uber doesn’t work like that.

The two go to crack dens and strip clubs and, pretty soon, Stu is doing things like holding criminals at gunpoint, all of which is NOT in the Uber handbook. As you’d expect, Vic teaches Stu a little bit about being a man and Stu teaches Vic a little bit about being a human being, and in the end, despite their differences, they find common ground, as well as Santos herself.

So when you come up with an idea like this, your first job is to write down all the things that you can convey from a comedy standpoint that are specific to this idea. Those are the things that are going to separate your script from all the other scripts out there. Because if your jokes are going to cover things that could’ve been done in a movie about a cab ride or a ride along, your script isn’t going to stand out.

Stuber starts off that way. There are some funny exchanges between Stu and Vic about how Uber works. Stu explains that you can’t go to multiple destinations. Unless, of course, you use the “pool” feature. So Vic says he’s using that then, but Stu says, no, that’s something you have to use the app to control, and Vic doesn’t even have the app. And a lot of that banter is funny.

But once we’re out on our mission, Uber-specific-language goes out the window. This is basically a comedic Collateral or Ride Along. And while Collateral is ten years old, Ride Along 2 just came out this year. So you have to wonder how this comedy is going to differentiate itself.

With that said, I understand why they developed the idea like they did. By bringing a fare into the mix with a high-stakes goal (find a major drug dealer), your script is always going to be moving, will always have urgency, and will always have high stakes. These are the things that make both movies and spec scripts go, so they’re a smart move plot-wise.

I suppose you could just chronicle a wild and crazy Uber night, where fare after fare takes you to weird places with strange things happening, and find a lot of funny shit through that, but what would the goal be? Where are the stakes?

I think more could have been done with the team-up in Stuber, though. Again, when you’re looking for comedy inside your idea, you always go back to what’s unique about your idea. What’s unique about Uber drivers? Well, a lot of them are millennials with beards and an unhealthy love for Bernie Sanders. You’d then ask, “Who’s the worst person for that kind of driver to be stuck with?” And you’d have somebody close to Clint Eastwood, which Vic essentially is.

But while we do get some of that ideology clash, most of the humor inside the car is geared towards either Vic telling Stu to grow a pair or Stu’s relationship with his clingy girlfriend. And while the girlfriend stuff was funny, I kept asking, couldn’t these jokes be used anywhere? You can put clingy girlfriends in any comedy script.

So I much would’ve rather seen comedy that dealt with millennials vs. the tough guy generation. That’s where you’re going to differentiate yourself from the Ride Alongs of the world. Like where’s the scene where Stu Orders Grub Hub delivery on his phone despite them being parked 15 feet from a hot dog stand? Let’s show the ridiculousness of how the average millennial approaches basic life needs.

Stuber was okay, maybe not as creative as I would’ve liked it to be. But as I’ve come to realize, comedy is sooooo dependent on casting. So we’ll have to see who they get for this. If they come up with the right casting combo, this will be a big deal. If not, they can expect to be run over by Will Ferrell’s Uber.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: The large majority of your jokes should be specific to the comedy idea you’ve come up with. If you come up with a joke or a comedic scene that could work in any comedy movie, you should probably go back to the drawing board and look for that joke that’s more specific to your movie.

Scriptshadow Challenge: You’ve just been tasked to come up with an Uber comedy premise for a studio. What would it be? Can you beat out this idea? Upvote your favorite pitch!

Genre: Sci-fi
Premise: A man’s world is thrown into disarray when an alien virus takes over the planet and he becomes the only being the virus cannot infiltrate.
About: This is a big sci-fi spec that just sold recently, and the news that makes this sale even cooler is that Fargo TV creator Noah Hawley will be directing it. That Fargo TV show, particuarly the second season, was some of the best television I’ve seen in a long time – the closest thing we got to Breaking Bad since Breaking Bad. And it even added UFOs into the mix. Walter White ain’t never had a UFO to play around with. Uh, yeah, count me in.
Writer: Joseph J. Greenberg
Details: 98 pages

You guys want to kill me with these late posts – I know – but there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll try to get back on schedule. Pray for me. But in the meantime, enjoy this sweet-ass spec script.

30-something “Man” is your average suburban husband who goes on daily killing sprees. Usually he uses guns. But when he wants to spice things up, he uses the axe. That makes the killings extra juicy.

The people Man kills aren’t exactly upset about the ordeal. They’ve gotten used to it. In fact, Man could send an axe blade through the head of a 13 year-old boy and a nearby elderly woman will just sigh.

So what the fuck is going on with Man? Well, the better question is probably, what the fuck is going on with earth? Three years ago, an alien virus arrived and infiltrated every living being, turning them into a giant unified networked organism. Technically, everybody is still themselves, but they’re being controlled by a universal AI that only cares about itself.

Everyone, that is, except for Man. The alien organism can’t seem to assimilate Man, which is really frustrating, man. As a result, Man walks around killing people to both deal with his depression and piss the aliens off.

Then one day, things change. A mutation has begun to occur in certain people, causing them to attack others. Not like the way Man does – the attacks are more planned, and they seem to be coming from someone else, someone else who, like Tom, can’t be controlled.

When Man learns that there are a tiny percentage of others out there like him, particularly a woman named Maya, he strikes a deal with the alien AI. He’ll kill all these mutations for the AI if he can meet Maya. The AI is hesitant. The danger of two pure-humans mating could have drastic effects on the network. But in the end, it may be the only way for it to survive.

Have you ever seen that really really really really really really really really bad movie, The Host? It was from the same woman who wrote Twilight? So, yeah, that should give you an idea of the level of quality there. Well “Man Alive” is like the cool version of that idea.

And actually, if you’re really serious about screenwriting and you have time, go watch The Host and then read this script, as it will show you how easy it is to take the same idea and make it either terrible or great.

One of the first lessons that Man Alive teaches us is the power of thinking non-linearly. It’s our default, as human beings, to think from beginning to end. And while that by no means ensures a bad story, the non-linear option allows for a lot more creativity.

Take the original Independence Day. I know, some people love this movie. But let’s be honest, the screenplay is terrible. And one of the reasons for that is that the story is embarrassingly linear. Earth is fine. Aliens arrive. Aliens blow shit up. Aliens attack. Earth fights back. There’s no creativity to it. So eventually, we get ahead of the story, and the only thing left to keep our interest is flashy special effects and Jeff Goldblum.

Man Alive does not start with the aliens arriving. It starts well afterwards. We are firmly entrenched in a world where the aliens have taken over. But the great thing about Man Alive is that it doesn’t stop there. It also doesn’t tell us yet who these aliens are or how they operate. In fact, we don’t even know there ARE aliens in the opening scene. We witness a man go on an axe-murdering spree and promptly wonder, “What the fuck is going on and why is nobody trying to stop this guy?”

This is the power of non-linear. If you can drop the audience inside unique situations they don’t understand yet and play with them, you can have a lot of fun.

There is a danger to being too obscure early. The audience can become confused, even frustrated. But that tends to be a writing issue, not a conceptual issue. You have to make sure you’re ultra clear with the pieces of information you convey so that things aren’t too confusing, and Greenberg does a great job with that. His writing style is very crisp, very non-flashy, very to the point. That’s the kind of writing you need – writing that won’t be misinterpreted.

Man Alive is also a great example of a spec-friendly idea. I was trying to explain this to a writer the other day who wrote this big sprawling period piece that was beautiful and dramatic and character-driven and had something to say about the world.

But trying to fit those kinds of ideas inside of the spec format is like trying to fit a square peg inside a round hole. The spec format likes flashy ideas that are genre-driven, that get to the point quickly, that move fast, that have high stakes, and that feel big and unique. That’s not to say writing that kind of idea is the only way to succeed in the spec market. But it’s the outfit that looks best on the spec body. So when you’re dressing outside of that style, expect it to be hard.

I really liked this script. I really liked this writer. Since the writing was so simple, so straight-to-the-point, it never got in the way, allowing the story to be the star. And what a story it was. If you’re a sci-fi screenwriter, you need to study this screenplay to see what a good sci-fi spec reads like.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Man Alive pulls the low-budget genre trick off perfectly. The low-budget genre trick is you come up with a big genre idea, then approach it in a way where you’ll have minimal special effects work. We have a full-on alien invasion here. And yet the studio doesn’t have to spend a dime on alien special effects. Because the aliens are all inside the human beings. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference when your script is being evaluated for purchase.


Guys, I got nothing today. I’ve been playing catch-up all weekend after being sick last week, as well as trying to read all of your loglines. The logline thing has been tricky. A lot of the things I assumed were obvious are obviously not obvious. So I have a tall order this Thursday trying to come up with an article that’s going to explain how to a) come up with a good idea and b) turn it into a good logline, because we only have A WEEK AND A HALF before we have to start writing a screenplay!

I’ve just been reading so many amateur scripts lately that never had a shot because the idea wasn’t big enough, interesting enough, unique enough, or movie-friendly. The hope with my three-month screenplay challenge is that when you finish your script, it will actually have a chance in the marketplace. And if the idea isn’t good, you won’t have that chance. Nothing you wrote during those three months will have mattered. So here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Something has to be original about your logline. Stop sending me loglines with witches, zombies, aliens, and vampires that don’t have a single original element. The biggest faux-pas made so far in the loglines I’ve received is that I can look at the logline and say, “I’ve already seen a movie similar to this.”

2) “Strange attractors” are logline crack. Bringing dinosaurs back to life. A guy is blown up every 8 minutes on a train until he solves a mystery. Michael Jackson’s life story told through the point of view of his monkey. They’re not required, but if you have one, your logline will stand out from the rest.

3) Irony is your best friend in Logline Land. A billionaire ice cream magnate who loses his empire and must take a job as a shoe salesman isn’t nearly as interesting as an ice cream magnate who’s lost his empire being forced to support himself by driving an ice cream truck.