A lifeguard struggles to cope with his wife’s suicide, his ethics are tested when he discovers her rapist drowning at the local beach
Hey Andrew – I like this … rolls off the tongue much easier. But if you decide to use this structure, then start it off with “As a lifeguard…”
“As a lifeguard struggles to cope with his wife’s suicide, his ethics are tested when he sees her rapist drowning at the beach.”
I think you need to replace “discovers” since it implies finding something new, like an internal motivation or external obstacle. In this case, he simply “sees” the rapist drowning.
And I would axe the “local” adjective – doesn’t provide any additional information, so shorter is better.
I’m interested in reading more about your storyline – sounds like your main character is going to experience some REAL turmoil and hatred.
Once again, jimnewman’s logline hits the nail on the head. My issue is with the overall concept. Is this enough of a conflict to base a screenplay around, even a short screenplay? From that logline, your emphasis of your entire story is a man testing his ethics. That has about as much drama as a fat guy deciding on a third donut (and I should know about THAT conflict). I mean, it’s an interesting situation, but it must be delved into much deeper and make it more meaningful, and you can accomplish that in several ways:
By increasing the conflict: if he’s a born-again Christian, or a former priest who left his calling to get married. Now the conflict is much deeper. Most people don’t look upon life guards as having unwavering principals, I wouldn’t think.
You increase the tension: he’s on TV being recorded for a news show, and he sees this guy drowning. Does he take the plunge (literally) or risk losing everything by letting the guy go belly up?
You increase the stakes: He is up for lifeguard of the year, which would give him a prime location, more money, and far more responsibility and perks, so if this guy drown’s on his watch, he’s going to lose all of that.
What if the rapist was his brother? Now he’s torn between letting the rapist drown or saving his flesh and blood that he grew up with?
These are not suggestions, just examples how you can increase the tension and stakes of a logline. Overall, the concept as it stands just doesn’t sound like it will be enough to get anyone interested enough to read the entire script.
This is just another reason why loglines are so important. I cannot tell you how many “great ideas” for a script I’ve had that, when prepared into some sort of logline, just didn’t generate enough interest to want to devote a years time in writing it. The logline shows the strength of a concept through the hooks, but it also magnifies the weaknesses of the same concept.
Food for thought…
Geno Scala (sharkeatingman)- judge.
The thought of his brother being the rapist did come into my mind at one stage, even the father.
A lifeguard struggles to cope with his wife’s suicide, his ethics are tested when he discovers her rapist drowning at the local beach, his brother,
I’ll work on it some more, wording seems flat…
The concept is very appealing, and Geno’s comments are right on the money. Wish someone was sending me that kind of constructive criticism! Man, just reading those ideas had me conceiving MY OWN film based on your premise! Don’t worry … it’s not my genre 🙂
What I would say is this – loglines that begin with “Someone struggles with something, then this happens” never hit home with me, because it fragments the idea into two separate concepts. The “internal” dilemma (someone struggling with x) and the “external” dilemma (then something else happens). As writers, we want the internal and external to be intwined inextricably throughout the course of the story, right? So why is it that the first thing we’re using to tell people about our story sets it up as being two separate elements?
What if your logline began “After his wife’s suicide, a lifeguard witnesses his wife’s rapist drowning … (then whatever else happens in the story).
Unless this is a short, I can’t imagine your WHOLE movie centres around whether he’s going to rescue this guy or not … unless the whole film take place in flashbacks during the two or three minutes it takes for this guy to die? Whilst this might be a very difficult decision for your character, it’s probably not actually what the film is about (again, as Geno suggests, unless it’s a short film). Your protag either does or does not rescue the guy, and then the film is actually about what happens next …