Creating a logline
A playwright friend of mine who read my synopsis sent me a checklist for making a shorter, “teaser” synopsis. It goes like this:
CHECKLIST FOR YOUR LOGLINE
- Reveal the star’s SITUATION
- Reveal the important COMPLICATIONS
- Describe the ACTION the star takes
- Describe the star’s CRISIS decision
- Hint at the CLIMAX – the danger, the ‘showdown’
- Hint at the star’s potential TRANSFORMATION
- Identify SIZZLE: sex, greed, humor, danger, thrills, satisfaction
- Identify GENRE
- Keep it to three sentences
- Use present tense
Creating a logline for “Lessons from Moonshine”
The main character is Sister Joseph.
Situation: she has lost her inner peace; she can’t keep the convent in business.
Complications: rural economic slump after World War I; a plain, ugly chapel; the youngest Sister has the winning plan, not she herself.
Action: she takes over operations of the still, and makes it her project; she makes ambitious plans for the money.
Crisis decision: to push the still beyond what it can produce.
Climax (a hint at): a disastrous accident with the still.
Transformation (a hint at): she admits she has lost her inner peace; she understands that a beautiful church will not bring it back.
Sizzle: breaking the law; greed for wealth, contrary to her vows.
Short synopsis #1
During Prohibition, a lonely nun who has lost her faith tries desperately to keep in business the convent she belongs to. When the youngest nun has the winning suggestion – to run a still – she ignores the danger of breaking the law, and takes over the project and causes a disastrous accident. Lying in her hospital bed, she finally confesses the desperate need that drove her to break her vow of poverty.
Short synopsis #2
During Prohibition, a nun lives a lonely and spiritually dead life, trying desperately to keep the convent she’s a member of from going bankrupt. When the youngest nun has the winning suggestion – break the law and run a still – she takes over the project and pushes the still past its capacity. A disastrous accident puts her in the hospital with life-threatening injuries, where she finally confesses the desperate need that drove her to break her vows to God.
What do you think?
If you were the artistic director of a theater, would this synopsis make you more interested in the play?