I'm still learning to blog. It's a hard format. Just about the only thing that works consistently is a concrete example. So here goes.
I've blogged before about the script that is presently kicking my ass. The main character is more or less me as a teenager. I've found a very strong mediation and genre choice so I'm sufficiently distanced from the material to actually let me subconscious get involved. I'm not going to describe it too directly, but the basic set up is a shy 15-year-old in a stand off with the U.S. Army.
For a fresh reader, what's appealing about this set up is the apparent mismatch. What's intriguing to a fresh reader is how I might make that mismatch work. What's not appealing is that I've set my main character against the U.S. Army in a script targeted at a mass market. The army is supposed to be the good guys.
How do I think about this issue? Logline.
For a long time I tried finessing small details, trying to show how the kid defending his fantasy world is in the right, and the army is in the wrong (but it's still okay for the guy buying the popcorn). I thought about changing the market, but that would require making it a much lower budget film. Couldn't make that work.
Meanwhile, the main issue for me as a writer was that the main character, who's supposed to be a screwed up, closeted, crypto-Christian adolescent who spends his days drawing pictures, was actually turning all Spielberg on me. Boring. Standard. Too easy.
Loglining (did I just create a verb?) helped me figure out the sympathy issue. The U.S. Army can open up the big guns, even on a 15-year-old, if they're defending us. All I have to do to make this set up work: the kid's playing offense, not defense. How do I keep him sympathetic? I don't want to describe my script online. It's enough to say that no one actually controls their fantasy world.
Maybe loglining is just as important as the logline itself. I've written at least fifty loglines for this script. I'll write fifty more before I'm done. I have no doubt it will teach me something about the script every time.