After a string of murders in rooms sinisterly decorated like scenes out of children’s books, a burned-out detective must connect the victims and follow the clues back into his own past to stop the killer
Your logline has the required core elements (inciting incident, protagonist, objective goal). And comes in at an acceptable length of 34 words.
However, I’m having a bit of trouble visualizing “decorated straight out of children’s books”. Would you care to elaborate?
Also, fwiw, I’ve worked with and observed first hand a number of detectives and cops. And over time they do suffer from “battle fatigue”; their work wears them down psychologically; they become cynical, suspicious, bitter. And burned out — that’s the term I am inclined to suggest rather than disillusioned. In my demented mind, “burned out” is more evocative: their passion for seeing justice done has burned out; they are just putting in their time, perfunctorily working their cases, pushing paperwork until they can collect their pensions. And all the while, their job is wreaking hell with their personal lives and personal relationships.
Finally, does “follow the clues back to his own past” refer to a realization he comes to at the end of Act 1? Or is it a MPR discovery?
About a year ago I read “The Godfather Notebook”, a collection of notes Francis Ford Coppola made while writing and directing “The Godfather”. His technique for condensing the sprawling book down to a shooting script was to come up with a one word description of the theme. After wrestling with the book for weeks, the one word description he came up with was:
The Godfather was a story of a struggle to determine who would succeed Don Vito Corleone.
He wrote the word on an index card and taped it by his typewriter. That index card was his North Star for navigating through the book, writing the script.
It’s a technique I’ve tried to adopted for my own projects. Operative word: tried. I can’t say I can summarize all my current projects in just one word. But at least I’ve been able to summarize the overarching theme in 2-3 words.
Now then. What do you consider to be a one word summary of your operative theme? Or two? Or three?
After reading your summary, the word that first came to my mind was “revenge”. He wants revenge against a system that let the deviant creep get away. And then it occurred to me that a more emotionally compelling theme might be “redemption”. Yes, the system was flawed, but he could have, should have pushed harder. However, he was a rookie he couldn’t pull rank; and he didn’t want to damage his prospects for promotion so he acquiesced to his superiors. And so…
Anyway, just spitballing and trying to get a better focus on the plot. It’s your story, of course. Best wishes.
BTW: Have you viewed Episode 3 of Prime Suspect, starring Hellen Mirren? It’s about the cover up of a pedophile ring. Strongly recommend, imho, one of best episodes in the widely acclaimed series.
Thanks for the feedback. Incredibly useful comments.
Each of the rooms where the police find a body is made to look like a well known scene from a children’s story – but much more sinister. For example, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, or, as the first one they find will be, the Darling’s nursery from Peter Pan. In this first room, a note is on the body signed Peter Pan. I struggled to find a succinct way of describing this but it’s the killer’s calling card and the hook so I can probably get away with a few extra words if I need them. All suggestions welcome.
“Burned out” is a good way to describe him.
The clues back to his own past are an MPR discovery. When he was a rookie, he was the arresting officer of a paedophile who was eventually let out on a technicality. This man then went on to abuse more children. The rookie was a bit outspoken about what he saw as a failing of justice. Since then he’s always been very by the book, keen to stop that happening again but because of his outburst he’s always been penalised and passed over for promotion. This all adds to him being burned out. The midpoint discovery is that all of the victims are grooming children online (unknown to law enforcement) and the killer personally wants this detective on the case. The killer turns out to be one of the boys who was abused after the paedophile was released but that might be saved for the end of Act II.