A high school graduate prepares to move out of his childhood home. However, in order to pursue a future in journalism, he must first let go of the memories that are tying him down.

What I Left Behind

jacksonhpeters Penpusher Asked on October 28, 2013 in Public.
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5 Review(s)

“Learn to let go of the past” is vague, subjective and backward looking.

The logline is about the plot. And the conventional plot is about a (1) specific objective goal (2) a protagonist must achieve looking and going forward in time in spite of a (3)character flaw and (4)opposition from an antagonist–5)or else.

So:
OBJECTIVE GOAL: What does the young want to accomplish going forward with his life after graduation?
CHARACTER FLAW: What hinders him internally from accomplishing it?
ANTAGONIST: Who opposes him externally from accomplishing the goal?
STAKES: “Or else” –What does he stand to lose if he fails?

dpg Singularity Reviewed on October 28, 2013.
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The revised version is still about a plot that moves in reverse gear, about a character facing his past rather than his present or future.

For the purposes of the logline, the story should start where the conflict starts. If the conflict started some time before he graduated, that is where the logline should start. What was that conflict? What objective goal was he striving for as a result of that conflict? Who was the antagonist?

dpg Singularity Reviewed on October 28, 2013.
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Let me try this again: I’m guessing your concept is a coming of age story about a teen who must excorcise a psychological ghost in his past before he can go forward with his life.

What is the specific ghost? Which is another way of saying what is the story hook — what makes this story different from all the other stories about characters who have to deal with “memories”? What are the specific “memories” that threaten his present life and his future dreams? What are the stakes, which is to ask: what does he stand to lose if he fails?

The movie “Ordinary People” (1980) comes to mind. It’s about a teenage boy dealing with “memories” — the death of his older brother in a boating accident . As the movie opens, the surviving brother ha already attempted suicide once out of guilt and remorse. He’s struggling to overcome suicidal urges that still rage within.

So the movie is about a boy fighting for his life — the threat, the stakes don’t get higher than that. The plot of the movie is the climax of his epic struggle to face down the ghost of the boating accident.

A tentative logline for “Ordinary People” might be: a guilt-ridden, suicidal teenager must overcome crushing remorse for the accidental death of his brother or he will try to kill himself again.

It could be argued that this is not a standard brand logline because the positive objective goal (stay alive) is implied in a negative: don’t try suicide again. However, the movie, “Ordinary People” was adapted from a best-selling book: the concept was already pre-sold as a movie. It didn’t need a great logline, any logline at all.

Unless your adapting a best-selling book, a pre-sold concept, your story does need a great logline. And, imho, “let go of memories” is too vague, too uninteresting to be a story hook, to make the story stand out from all the other coming or age stories in a similar vein.

fwiw.

Default Reviewed on October 29, 2013.
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Let me try again: I’m guessing the concept is a coming of age story about a teen who must exorcise a psychological ghost or three in his past before he can go forward with his life.

If so, then the logline needs to specify the ghost– the bad “memories”. Which is another way of saying that story needs a great hook — something that makes it different from all the other stories about characters who have to deal with bad “memories”?

The movie “Ordinary People” (1980) comes to mind. It’s about a teenage boy dealing with awful memories — the death of his older brother in a boating accident . As the movie opens, the surviving brother has already attempted suicide once out of guilt and remorse. But the bad memories of the accident still torment him; the suicidal urges still rages within — he’s in very real danger of trying to kill himself again..

So the movie is about a boy fighting for his life — the stakes don’t get higher than that. The plot of the movie is the climax of his personal struggle to face down the ghost of the boating accident.

A tentative logline for “Ordinary People” might be: a guilt-ridden, suicidal teenager must overcome crushing remorse for the accidental death of his brother or he will try to kill himself again.

Now, it could be argued that this is not a standard logline because the positive objective goal (stay alive) is implied by a negative: don’t try suicide again.

However, the movie, “Ordinary People” was adapted from a best-selling book: the concept was already pre-sold. It didn’t need a logline with a hook, any logline at all.

What I’m leading up to is that unless your adapting a best-selling book, a pre-sold concept, your story does need a logline with a hook. And, imho, “let go of memories” is too vague to be a hook, to grab attention. There is nothing in “let go of memories” that make the story stand out from all the other stories where characters have to “let go of memories”.

And the reader of the logline needs to know what the stakes are. If the teenager can’t come to terms with his past, what is the consequence? What does he stand to lose?. What’s at stake?

fwiw.

dpg Singularity Reviewed on October 29, 2013.
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Apologize for the redundancy: it’s taken too many [expletive deleted] hours to post anything at this website. I thought the first attempt had failed.

dpg Singularity Reviewed on October 29, 2013.
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