When a 16-year-old delinquent in a Tibetan refugee camp is recognized by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnated spritual leader, he finds himself a stranger in his own life.

    Penpusher Posted on April 27, 2016 in Family.

    When a 16-year-old delinquent in a Tibetan refugee camp is recognized by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnated spiritual leader he finds himself alienated from his friends and family, thrown into a tough monastic environment, and forced to reexamine his ideas about power and identity.

    This is feels like too much, and the other one like too little. I don’t know anymore.

    on April 27, 2016.
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    6 Review(s)

      I don’t think his age really matters. Besides, delinquent implies that he is young. Saying “A delinquent Tibetan refugee” is more concise. And honestly I’m not sure the Dalai Lama is important either, so: When a delinquent Tibetan refugee is recognized as a reincarnated spiritual leader”.
      A good start, you have an inciting incident, but going off of the original post, what causes him to feel like a stranger in his own life? Adding the direct action after the inciting incident would help. Is he isolated, is he treated better than his family? What happens? Looking at your second version, it looks like he is isolated, but rather than say “monastic”(I admit I had to look up, because I’ve never even heard of that word) simply say that he is isolated in a strict environment. There seems to be no conflict in the story, you mention him having to reexamine his ideas, but there are no stakes. Is there an antagonist, or perhaps he tries to fight against the strict nature forced upon him by his culture?
      However, I do find the idea fascinating. That’s all I can think of for now.

      Summitry Answered on April 27, 2016.

      Thanks for your thoughts.  You hit the nail on the head. I’m trying to find the conflict, suss out the stakes and the forces of antagonism in this true story, and I’m still coming up short.  At least now I  won’t be tempting to forge ahead without these elements firmly in place.

      on April 28, 2016.
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        I think mentioning the title of Dalai Lama is important to establish the magnitude of his importance.

        Also finding one self in a new life or feeling a stranger in his own life, isn’t a goal it’s the inciting incident.
        Now as a result of his new life what must he do? It’s the way in which he handles himself and what he does that the audience want to see.

        Singularity Answered on April 27, 2016.

        Oh good direction.  That’s one of my story problems, I need to figure out an outer  goal beyond righting himself in his new situation.  The story’s about identity, where it is/ is not found and established, I might add that I write books not screenplays. But yeah,  I’m having a very hard time devising outer goals, high stakes, and forces of antagonism  that don’t seem trite or fabricated.

        on April 28, 2016.
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          Oh, well in that case “16-year-old” can be shortened to ‘teenage’, to reduce it to 1 word. But the point is, is it really common knowledge about this stuff? If someone were to walk up to me and say, “Dalai Lama,” it would have no significance to me, because while I have heard of it before, I have never looked into and I didn’t know what a Dalai Lama is until I just looked it up. So, while to someone who knows about it means something, what about others? Is it that important in the logline  that it is the Dalai Lama who discovers this person? Or could you just simply cut it out, saying “when he is discovered as a reincarnated spiritual leader” and leave out who discovers him altogether?
          Since anyone who knows about this stuff would know that it is because you mention Tibetan, I don’t think you need to specifically mention the Dalai Lama, but you still avoid putting stuff in that isn’t common knowledge.

          Summitry Answered on April 27, 2016.
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            >>>Yeah it was an unusual set of (true) circumstances, and the whole reason I thought it made a good story.

            Having the College of Cardinals intentionally select a woman to be pope would also make a good story.  But how credible is that premise?  How likely is that to happen?

            The premise of the story while interesting is, alas, counterfactual.  There is a living Dali Lama; he is a free man; nor is he likely to become a prisoner.  (The Chinese regime is corrupt and  repressive it isn’t  that stupid. They aren’t about to make a martyr out him — bad for international relations — and for business.)  So the story would have to be set in a parallel universe or an indefinite future.  And the logline would need to reflect that to overcome the questions I raised that will surely be in the mind of logline readers in the film industry (where the Dali Lama is a well-known and revered figure).

            If the story is a comedy, a satire, a parody or a fantasy  then you can break the rules of the real world; the audience implicitly understands and accepts this as a feature of the genre and will willingly suspend disbelief.  But an audience implicitly assumes that a drama reflects real life, what is possible, even if improbable.  If you’ve done your homework on Tibetan Buddhism and can prove  that by tradition and precedent your scenario is possible, even if improbable, then it’s a viable story.


            Just saying.

            Singularity Answered on April 27, 2016.

            You are misreading the sentence/ subject. The Dalai Lama recognizes a boy as a reincarnated monk who had died in a prison camp 16 years earlier. This happened in real life.  It was unusual but not THAT much of a big deal.

            on April 28, 2016.

            Another “Doh!” moment.  Sorry, apologize and retract.

            However, “he finds himself a stranger in his own life” is a statement of his predicament, but not a statement of his objective goal.

            So suddenly “finding himself a stranger in his own life”, what does he do about it?  What must he do about it?  What becomes his objective goal?

            on April 28, 2016.
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              A derelict Tibetan boy wrestles to accept his newfound spiritual responsibilities.

              Penpusher Answered on April 28, 2016.
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                I’ve got to say that I miss read the original logline as well, this is probably indicative of a flaw in the logline. I think best to re visit the wording at least to emphasize that the boy is not recognised as the Dalai Lama but as another spiritual leader.

                That said I don’t think the stakes are high enough, the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of billions his significance is imminence. The re incarnation of a monk would be far less a “big deal” and therefore presents less of an obstacle for the boy to adapt for.  Would this be as interesting as if he were as the spiritual leader of billions of people and recognised around the world?
                The facts of a true event shouldn’t stand in the way of a good story, and if you’re trying to tell the story of a delinquent adapting to a sudden change and new responsibilities then perhaps greater stake would make for a better story.

                Singularity Answered on April 28, 2016.

                Point taken about all the misreads, thanks.

                I’m stuck wondering if bigger is always  better. Surely,  there are some good quieter stories out there, like Siddhartha or the Royal Tennenbaums, even.

                So part of me gets the need to go big or go home, and another parts feels so lame and phoney when I write that way. Inauthentic, I think is the word.?

                on April 29, 2016.
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