Ask LA Screenwriter: Revealing Your Twist in a Pitch or Logline

seinfeld-the-pitch

by Angela Bourassa

I’ve gotten the same question from several different sources lately. The basic question is:

Should I reveal my big twist in my logline or pitch? I’m worried that giving away the ending will ruin the read for whoever’s evaluating my script.

This question came up during a panel I was on at the recent ScriptFest conference. I happened to be holding the microphone at the time, and all three of my fellow panelists reached for it as soon as the question was asked. This was one question that we all had strong opinions about. But I clung to that microphone, and this is what I said:

Give it all away. Reveal, reveal, reveal. Tell the reader everything you possibly can in your logline or your pitch to make them fascinated by your story and eager to read it.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you should ramble on and go into every last detail of your story. We have several resources about how to craft a great pitch or a great logline. But you should cover all of the biggest, most important highlights of your story, and that absolutely includes any unexpected twists.

I understand the concern that revealing a twist in a logline or pitch might make the read of the actual script a little less exciting for the person evaluating your script, but I think it’s unfounded.

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Imagine two agency script readers:

One is sent a logline for a script that sounds like an ok idea. The plot seems well structured, and the characters aren’t completely generic, but there’s nothing special about the concept. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they’re not even going to bother asking for the script. If they somehow decide the script is worth looking at, they’ll read the first five pages and decide the rest isn’t worth their time. In other words, they never get to your big twist.

The second reader is sent a logline with a surprising and innovative twist. They think to themselves, “Wow, I wonder how they’re going to make that work” or “I’ve never seen a twist quite like that before.” They request the script immediately. Maybe it doesn’t grip them right away, but they don’t put the script down, because they know this twist is coming, and they’re excited about it.

The other version of this concern is, “I don’t want to reveal too much of my plot in my logline. I’m just trying to entice the reader so that they’ll read the script and get to enjoy the plot then.”

The entire point of a logline is to get people to read your script. I have strong opinions about the best ways to do that, and I’m sure other logline gurus will disagree with me about the finer points. But I’m sure we can all agree that your logline should be as compelling, exciting, fresh, and creative as possible. And that means laying all of your cards on the table. If you hold back in your logline, why will the reader think you’ll be more creative in your script? Why will they ask for the script at all?? Put simply, they won’t.

By the way, after I gave my response at ScriptFest, my fellow panelists all stopped reaching for the mic. The four of us were in total agreement.

Reveal, reveal, reveal.

If you have a question you’d like to ask LA Screenwriter, email us at LAScreenwriterBlog@gmail.com or tweet at us @LA_Screenwriter.

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Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

2 thoughts on “Ask LA Screenwriter: Revealing Your Twist in a Pitch or Logline

Add yours

  1. I recently wrote a script where the protagonist dies at the midpoint (a la Psycho) and the story becomes about another character. I have a hard time loglining this.

    1. That’s a tough one. Stories that take that approach are quite rare and hard to pull off. My instinct is that your logline should focus on both characters and the main goal that they are each trying to achieve. It may be one of those very rare circumstances where a two-sentence logline is warranted.

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