Espionage is the weapon of choice, for husband and wife inventors of an algorithm that speeds up the design of life-saving drugs and the multinational corporation determined to suppress it.

Surveillance Report

kbfilmworks Samurai Asked on June 1, 2013 in Public.
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3 Review(s)

“Espionage is the weapon of choice, for husband and wife inventors of an algorithm that speeds up the design of life-saving drugs and the multinational corporation determined to suppress it.”

Wait… Can I read that as a couple of guys who invent husbands and/or wives for a living? Mwahahaha. Or would that intention be written as “husband- and wife-inventors”? “Inventors” is the noun, with “husband and wife” modifying it as a compound adjective, and “husband and wife” acting as one unit, so… let’s ask Google.

Plugging in “husband and wife team” (with quotes to trigger a phrase search) gives 43.1 million hits. Searching on “husband-and-wife team” shows 43.4 million hits. No clear winner from that slight margin.

Back to the topic.

Plenty of good elements, but too many general ideas packed into this LL. Needs more specifity to create sharper pictures in our imagination.

protagonists: husband and wife inventors
antagonist: multinational corporation
conflict: espionage
prize: algorithm to speed up life-saving drug manufacture

“Husband and wife inventors” is fine, but suggests no conflict or intriguing relationship.

“Multinational corporation” is as generic as it gets.

“Espionage” covers such a wide range of possibilities that it in no way narrows and solidifies our understanding of the main conflict.

“Algorithm to speed up life-saving drug manufacture.” I think this expression of your macguffin hurts your LL the most. It raises too many questions that get in the way of us quickly comprehending the “prize”. It feels weak to me. This isn’t a life-saving drug; it’s something that speeds the process of manufacturing life-saving drugs. I mean, yeah, that’s important. But it’s like being the Lone Ranger’s sidekick: you’re useful, but you’re the expendable one in the team. Here, we could throw away the algorithm and the life-saving drugs manufacturing will go on regardless, just at its previous slower pace.

First pass:

“Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation trying to bury their revolutionary work to speed the design of life-saving drugs.”

Phew. A mouthful. Everything’s there, but it trips over itself in the rush to deliver all the elements. We’ll fix that in a moment.

Note how “infiltrate” is a specific, highly suggestive expression of espionage. “I am going to espionage your company” versus “I am going to infiltrate your company.” Which gives a more concrete understanding of the clandestine action about to take place?

I swapped out “multinational corporation” for “global corporation”. There’s a subtle difference of course: a corporation becomes multinational the moment it establishes a second office in a country outside the first. That doesn’t earn the label “global”. But I don’t think it matters here. We want to suggest a powerful corporation with global reach and influence. And we shave five syllables down to two for speedier comprehension.

Also I swapped out “suppress” for the grittier “bury”. The latter feels more forceful to me.

Now, to make the first pass flow neater:

“Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation that’s trying to bury their revolutionary work on life-saving drugs.”

I simplified the macguffin. Is it important we know the macguffin is an algorithm? I’d argue it isn’t. As I said before, for me, mentioning the algorithm weakens the LL. I think what’s important is that we know the milieu the story explores: life-saving drugs.

Adding “that’s” eliminates the tiny possibility a reader will wrongly think “trying to” applies to the husband-wife team instead of the corporation. We could juice “trying to” because it feels weak, no urgency. In your original you used “determined”, which is pretty good. How about:

“Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation that’s desperate to bury their revolutionary work on life-saving drugs.”

I’m not thrilled about using “that’s”. It feels clumsy somehow.

Or we could do an end run around that whole bit and present it as a fait accompli, which arguable bumps the stakes even more: the worst has already happened to the husband and wife, and the corporation thinks they’ve won.

“Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation that buried their revolutionary work on life-saving drugs.”

That simplifies the story a whole lot, which might not be what you want. But it sure does create a clean, direct through-line: infiltrate, steal the evidence of wrongdoing, expose the corporation and share the “revolutionary work” with the world.

Rereading your original LL, I see I missed the subtle connotation that both sides use espionage. Not just the husband-wife team. Reading it that way, it muddies the waters even more. Sort of like loglining a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie as: “A spy and the agency that hired him use espionage against each other.”

All right. Let’s put the loglines side by side and see how they compare:

ORIGINAL:

“Espionage is the weapon of choice, for husband and wife inventors of an algorithm that speeds up the design of life-saving drugs and the multinational corporation determined to suppress it.”

REVISED:

“Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation that buried their revolutionary work on life-saving drugs.”

Not done yet. Earlier I said “husband and wife inventors” was too bland for my taste. Let’s throw in a hint of conflict between them. The go-to would be “estranged husband and wife inventors” or “divorced”, “separated”, and so on. How about:

“Newly married Husband and wife inventors infiltrate the global corporation that buried their revolutionary work on life-saving drugs.”

That we’re mentioning “newly married” in the LL implies it’s important to the story, that somehow the fact they’re newly married will lead to complications and conflict. It might be the wrong choice, though. It makes me think there’ll be a comic payoff. Obviously that’s not the tone the LL author wants to present.

So I’ll just bounce this one back to you, kbfilmworks. Why is it important to this story that it’s a husband and wife team?

Cheers,
10PTT.COM

Default Reviewed on June 1, 2013.
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Thanks 10PTT. I really appreciate your analysis and comments. And I’ve tried to revise the logline with all of that in mind.

Espionage is the weapon of choice: for clashing husband and wife inventors of a lucrative new industrial process and the global corporation determined to bury technology that could save millions of lives.

I prefer to use the word espionage because it defines the sub-genre for readers and
people – in my mind – immediately think of deception, betrayal, etc – which is what the story is all about.

kbfilmworks Samurai Reviewed on June 1, 2013.
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No worries! I like the new emphasis on the stakes: “technology that could save millions of lives.” You might ratchet that up even more by saying: “technology that _will_ save millions of lives.” Consider the difference between these: “There’s a two-mile-wide asteroid headed toward earth and it might hit us” versus “… and it will hit us.” Elevated urgency.

You don’t want punctuation tripping up the LL. I vote for omitting the colon (formerly a comma): “Espionage is the weapon of choice for clashing husband and wife inventors of a…”

The only thing that concerns me with your new LL is losing the medical references (life-saving drugs). Now, there’s only the barest hint about the story taking place within the medical industry: “… save millions of lives.” As it now stands, the story could take place in any industry. That’s probably not a dealbreaker.

Good luck!

Default Reviewed on June 1, 2013.
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