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.

Caleb Tumanako Penpusher Asked on October 10, 2018 in Horror.
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5 Review(s)

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.

mikepedley85 Mentor Reviewed on October 10, 2018.

You’ve made a few changes not long after I posted this comment – just wanted to address the changes as now some of the above doesn’t fit in.

You need a main protagonist. It was better when it was the soldier leading the unit. We just needed a bit more information about him. It’s a lot easier for the audience to root for these guys when there’s one central guy who acts as the emotional conduit. We feel through him. If there’s multiple protagonists it’s much harder to know how, emotionally, we’re supposed to be viewing the story. Why does it matter that they’re US Special Forces? It tells us a little something about the type of people we’re dealing with but the more interesting bit is the Nephilim and the target. Focus on them as seen through the eyes of the leader of the unit.

>>> Terrifying warmongering Nephilim
Just because you call him terrifying and warmongering doesn’t make him terrifying/warmongering if we don’t understand his motives. His actions make him terrifying. Ultimately, the reader would still need to know what a Nephilim was. Why Nephilim anyway? Why not a demon? People understand what a demon is. Give us a reason why it’s a Nephilim – and as per my above comment I think it should tie into the target they’re extracting.

Why does it matter than the target is advising against this? That’s just a scene where he’s saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” and then everybody ignores him and goes anyway. It doesn’t affect the story at all, it merely sets up audience expectation that something bad’s gonna happen. This is a given in any film involving soldiers in a war zone. In my opinion it’s not important enough to be in the logline.

The way this is now worded suggests that everybody is aware there is a Nephilim hiding out in this region. If a region is controlled by something it’s kinda common knowledge. Is that the case?

on October 10, 2018.

The story I have, the full story is about a conflicted protagonist who is unsure if he carry out this extraction as he is been deployed to Afghanistan before. Of course concerning his psych evaluation he knows the right answer to say but sad to say – he gets high from war. It’s his addiction.

Now, the whole backstory with the Nephilim stems from a legend called the Afghan giant. The Nephilim’s region is known to both locals and the Taliban, but unknown to Western forces. The Nephilim who is over 120 years-old is a half angel-half human hybrid who comes an the Ancient world in the mountainous regions but he is more savage-animal like. With a vast area which is marked to him and his line of descendants, he even has people who worship him. He eats humans and is basically an ancient guerilla warfare expert and is the last of his kind. His presence is suppose to feel like he could exist in our real world, in a place far away from any type of modern society.

With the locals of the area knowing what it is, they do their best to give him their sacrifices (usually goats) to keep him from hunting down and killing the locales. Highly intellectual in his own way, I wanted to mix the modern world with the ancient by just the US Forces crossing into “his” region, to him – that is a violation and grounds for war.

I like the idea of the target being a child – but the mission is still one deployed by the US who are unaware of this gigantic warlord.

on October 10, 2018.

Thanks for the additional info. It helps!

I think if you want to write a story about soldiers entering the Nephilim’s region then do that. The inclusion of the guy they’re trying to extract in the logline makes it seem like a) he’s more important than he is to the story, and b) that he’s potentially connected with the Nephilim. There’s no reason why the soldiers can’t meet people on the way who do the same purpose. All the soldiers need is a mission and while they’re standing around looking at a map one of them says “do we want to go over the mountains? The locals say that’s where the Afghan Giant lives….” and someone else says “we’re not going 10 miles out of our way because some goat-herders are scared of the dark”. Simple!

This allows the story to focus on the people it should. The soldiers (in particular the leader). It’s them vs the monster. If you haven’t read “Save the Cat!” by Blake Snyder I recommend the chapter on “Monster in the House”. I’d also say films like “Dog Soldiers”, “Annihilation”, “Descent” and “Monsters” would be worth watching. Each has a unique take on how a team of trained people (not all military) use their skills in unexpected circumstances.

The only other thing is that there needs to be a strong reason why it’s this team of people and this leader. The easy answer when you’re dealing with something religious is that the protagonist has lost his faith. Perhaps this is a bit cliche now though…

on October 10, 2018.
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If I may: please, PLEASE, after taking feedback, do not alter the logline itself, but post each new version (perhaps with a new number) separately. I have lost the whole journey of the logline’s transformation and it’s a shame.

giannisggeorgiou Samurai Reviewed on October 11, 2018.

By “journey,” I mean that Mike has posted a whole essay about earlier versions of the logline, but his comments now make no sense, since the older versions are nowhere to be read.

on October 11, 2018.
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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.

mikepedley85 Mentor Reviewed on October 11, 2018.
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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.

mikepedley85 Mentor Reviewed on October 10, 2018.

Yes, Predator is what came to my mind, as well.

Unless the monster is something more than just a killing monster; perhaps a misunderstood being?

Otherwise, yes, if we have a “Monster in the House” type of movie, it is similar to Predator.

on October 11, 2018.
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