During an extraction, the head of a Special Forces unit vanishes overnight, the second-in-command leads an impromptu search and rescue in which the unit are attacked by an adversary from an ancient and forgotten age.
I have a few issues/questions with this logline.
Would a soldier with PTSD be allowed to lead his unit? Surely PTSD is treated pretty seriously in the military and that would rule him out of active duty? I’m not familiar with military protocol so this is as much as question as it is a concern about the central character.
The whole logline reads like a standard military action/thriller type thing and then suddenly you get to a Nephilim. I had to google a Nephilim which is issue no. 1. If people are unfamiliar with the bible (as I am) then you’ve potentially lost them. Issue no. 2 is that, as I’ve discovered this morning, a Nephilim is an offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men”. Without reading more deeply why does this pose a threat to the unit? I don’t understand where the horror comes into play without further explanation. You need to tell us more about the Nephilim’s goal for us to understand why this is scary and enough to keep us interested for 90+ mins.
Why do we care about the unit and the high-priority target? We don’t know the significance of this from the logline so there is nothing to emotionally connect us to the story. If they were extracting a “special child” out then there’s a possibility – plus the suggestion that the child is “special” would spark interest… maybe this child is connected to the Nephilim? If you’re gonna go biblical, let’s actually go there! The goal is to get this target to safety I’m guessing (although this isn’t explicitly stated and probably should be) but I wonder if this could be expanded on. Why is it important to get this target somewhere? Be specific.
In my opinion, scrap the PTSD and give the soldier another characteristic that ties him into the story better. Expand on the hook – that’s the Nephilim – this is the bit that makes your story unique. I don’t care that they’re going through Taliban controlled Afghanistan and I don’t care that they’re crossing through a dangerous region – they’re soldiers… it’s a given. These are taking up a lot of the limited word count and adding very little.
What’s the inciting incident that sets this story in motion? It should probably be something to do with the target. Something that tells us why they are important and, in my opinion, needs to suggest a connection to the Nephilim. Without this connection I’d be wondering what’s the point in this character. It can’t just be a convenient reason to send these soldiers out. They could just be on any other mission and you wouldn’t lose anything.
I know that sounds like a lot of negative comments but I genuinely believe there’s a great idea in here and I want you to find it.
Hope this helps.
The problem you’re always going to face is that, without getting what you have in your head across effectively in your logline, the reader will have no choice but to make comparisons with existing material.
You clearly have knowledge of Nephilims and how you want this character to act, look, move, etc BUT if we don’t then it makes zero difference. As I said previously, if the reader doesn’t know what a Nephilim is, keeping in mind that your entire story is focussed around one, you’re always going to have issues. This creature is the one thing that will set your story apart from others and if you’re vague about it then everyone is simply going to imagine something that’s already been done. All the best monsters stand out from the crowd. They’re unique and they’d be described in such a way that creates a unique image in the reader’s head:
Hulking patchwork of human parts. Giant ape. Man eating shark. Intellectual and charismatic cannibal. Creepy clown demon. I bet all of these immediately suggest a movie monster to you.
Simply put, make sure the reader’s vision is as close to yours as possible.
In your new version I’d argue that the inciting incident wasn’t them being given the task… that’s something that happens every day in the military. The inciting incident is the moment when the balance is thrown and in this scenario, in my opinion, it’s when the first soldier disappears. The task they’re given is still largely irrelevant to the story at the moment. If you’re going so far to tell us that it’s an extraction mission, then the reader will assume that it’s related to the plot. So either make it obviously related to the plot or take it out. The worst thing you can do is let a reader make assumptions about your story.
If this is set in our world, a giant would be mysterious. It’s a given. The creature in question is the hook… it needs to sound dark, dangerous and terrifying enough to wipe out a team of highly trained soldiers. For me, a mysterious giant doesn’t do that. I struggle to see a giant as stealthy, sneaky, dark and shadowy. But that could just be me.
How is this going to be different from Predator? I tried writing a logline and realised it’s a remarkably similar story just set in some desert mountains rather than a jungle.