A teenager must confront the father she put in prison before he wreacks havoc on her life and ruins her first chance at love.
As written, the logline seems to say that the father is still in prison. Which raises the question, how can he wreck her life from prison? Or has he served his time and his now wrecking her life as a free man?
Also how will confronting her father solve her problem? That seems to be a weak, ineffectual response. For one thing, it leaves the outcome of her dramatic problem in his hands. Her happiness is dependent on his actions, his whims, his mood. Either he stops making her life miserable or he doesn’t. She isn’t in control of her life and it seems to me her character arc is one where she finally takes control. Which is to say, she takes control of the plot. Because that’s the ultimate job of the protagonist. The protagonist later or sooner becomes the character who is in the driver’s seat of the narrative.
And that may her initial predicament, she’s one-down in the power relationship. But if he doesn’t stop, then what must she do? In what way can she, must she take control of her own life?
Good overall structure, but lacking clarity.
How can he affect her life while he’s in prison? What kind of havoc will he bring? How will he ruin her chance at love? What is this actually about? You’re not giving us enough information to comprehend the story.
You have included the four main elements necessary — protagonist, antagonist, conflict, & stakes — but haven’t made them very clear. These are just vague notions; be specific: what exactly will happen to her if she fails? What is involved in this imperative confrontation? What is it she has to do, and what will she be preventing?
Getting this information across in better detail will also make the genre more obvious, because right now it’s impossible to tell…is it a thriller? Horror? Drama? Comedy? Clue us in to the nature and tone of the story by identifying the main elements involved.
You’re still being vague about what happens, forcing questions regarding what the story’s actually about instead of generating interest in reading more of the story. What does it actually mean to keep her life on the level? What does dad actually do to drive a wedge? See how these phrases don’t really tell us anything about the story?
There’s also no point to him being a con artist if that information doesn’t factor into the story somehow, and given only these details, it doesn’t. If it matters, make it clear why, and if it doesn’t, don’t mention it. And someone TRYING to do something is also very uninteresting; I have to quote Yoda here: “Do or do not…there is no try.”
Also it’s still too many words. Keep it closer to 25.
You’ve added detail but it’s still rather vague, and doesn’t quite make sense — if her father can use this secret against her, how does it help her to expose it? If the secret is bad for her, shouldn’t she keep it? Still not getting across the genre either.
Also you had a structure that worked but have changed it for one that’s weaker and less compelling. Go back to the previous logline and just use more specific information, make it clear what the story is about.
Hmm, not sure I agree with all your points, mrliteral, but I’m intrigued by the exercise, so:
A teenager is targetted by the ex-con father that blames her for his arrest, and must risk being rejected by everyone she loves when she exposes her complicity in her father’s terrible crimes.
“A teenager is targetted by the ex-con father that blames her for his arrest, and must risk being rejected by everyone she loves when she exposes her complicity in her father’s terrible crimes.”
Targeted how? What is he going to do to her? Specificity is key (most of the time) in a logline. I could imagine that her father was trying to kill her, or that he was trying to simply expose her and, to me, that’s two very different types of film.
I agree with mrliteral – why would she expose her complicity if the impact of that would so detrimental? She’s not being forced to by anyone so why do it?
Currently, she has no objective goal. What is she trying to achieve?
I also agree with mrliteral about the genre. I don’t see how this is a Coming of Age movie.
(I haven’t read previous comments or versions of this logline so my comments are solely based on this one).
@deborah_b, admitting complicity to a crime is difficult to do without finding yourself in legal trouble.
All in all, I think the premise is good, but if this is to be a “coming of age” story, there are constraints on the timelines. For example, if her father’s crimes were “terrible” then he would have been in jail so long that it is hard to understand how she is still a teenager. Suppose he served 10 years, then she would have been seven or eight when he went to jail. Subtract at least six months from conviction to get the arrest date along with a few months between crime and arrest, and you have a little girl who was not legally or morally accountable. Any secrets her father may have reflect more on him for using a child in his crimes than on any guilt she bears.
Your original logline had the girl’s father still in prison. Despite some of the earlier comments, this gives more possibilities as she might have been 15 when when she helped him and therefore in a position where she could be blackmailed. All the father needs to blackmail her is an accomplice on the outside.
Also, your original logline had a love interest. This has more emotional potential than “everyone she loves”. Who are these other people? After the father’s conviction, the family probably cracked under the strain and her friends abandoned her so love is in short supply. How does her father’s status stand in the way of her relationship? Perhaps her lover or the lover’s family is aghast to learn she is the daughter of a convict serving a long sentence for a “terrible crime”.
There are plenty of stories with high emotional impact here, you just need to turn the premise over in your mind a bit more to find them.
These are all good points here. I’m not sure if the lack of clarity is due to a lack of specificity in your logline attempts or a lack of clear objectives and motivations in the script itself…we may not know without learning more about the story.
As for this newest logline, it’s rather long — 34 words — and has a big pause in the middle with the comma. And, because I have to live up to my moniker: “targeted”. Also you’re using “that” in reference to a person instead of “who” — “the ex-con father WHO blames her for…”
Maybe what you need is something like this: “A teenager tries to keep her con-artist father’s past a secret from her boyfriend’s family when dear old dad is unexpectedly released from prison.”
In 25 words you have a protagonist and her motivation, the antagonist and his nature, the conflict, the stakes, and even a sense of the tone the story will take, if it’s as relatively light-hearted as this sounds. All the additional details in your other loglines are extraneous at this point, and are things you can reveal in the script itself, which people should be interested in reading after a solid logline.
Agree with yqwertz. If she is complicit in his crimes, even she was coerced, the consequences to her social life constitutes a lesser problem. The bigger problem is the legal consequence.
So it would seem to me she’s trapped in the horns of a dilemma. Confessing may be what she must finally do (the Act 3 Big Reveal), but it would be the last thing she does after all other options have been exhausted.
Being trapped on the horns of such a dilemma could make for a compelling story, but it is not clear to me that is the story you intend to tell.
I agree with yqwertz that in the broader scheme of life, the fate of a teenage crush is not a big deal. But for a teenager living through that moment, it feels like a big deal. So the question I have is: will the viewing audience feel the same way as the character does?
I dunno. I still am not clear as to what the story is about, what the controlling idea is that organizes and drives the plot. And as noted “keep her life on the level’ is vague. And she only “tries” when she needs to do. Do something specific, concrete. But do what? And why?
One of my m.o.’s for evaluating a logline is to look for clues as which of three primary psychological needs (as defined by SDTM — Self-Determination Theory and Motivation model) motivates the protagonist, which is also to say, the plot. The Big Three are: 1] The need for autonomy or agency; 2] the need for competency or mastery; and 3] the need for relationship, to love and be loved.
To be sure, the teenage girl is driven by a need for autonomy, the need to declare her independence from her parent. That need is a genre defining feature of a coming of age story. (Where is her mother in this, btw?)
It is also seems evident she needs to work out a relationship with a father. But that need conflicts with her desire to build a relationship with a guy.
Well, if you’re going to frame a plot in terms of a character triangulation, (teenager, father, boyfriend) then I suggest the logline ought to offer a clue as to a defining contrast, a polarity between the father and the guy. We know the dad is damaged goods. But right now the guy is just a cipher, a plot prop. We have no clue as why she is crushing him. What is there about him that appeals to her, that her father is not?