Logline, essrogline.

Warm-Up Exercise

What is your version of Motherless Brooklyn about?

  • My version of the film is about identity. This theme will inevitably center around Lionel, since he is the first person narrator. Every scene is told through his eyes, with his own unique perspective. If the book had been written from, let’s say, the point of view of Frank Minna, the novel itself would likely be entirely different. The theme would probably be different too/. In my film adaptation, I want to highlight Lionel’s underlying sentiments about himself and the outside world. I want the viewers to build a bond with him through a struggle that we all share. Why do you think Lionel is such a compelling character? My version isn’t just about Lionel, it’s about all of us.
  • I think he is a compelling character because he is so different, yet also so much like all of us. We all experience a similar blend of emotions throughout our lives. His Tourette’s, too, makes him compelling. I have never seen a character in a movie or a novel suffer from this disease. I think it adds an element of humility to the novel and teaches the reader to be patient with him. I think it humanized Lionel. Unlike many other protagonists I’ve come across, Lionel is not two-dimensional. Two-dimensional characters are the usually the main reason why readers/viewers are not attracted to the plot. Their is no connection between the audience and the story, no outstretched hand. Three dimensional characters add that outstretched hand.

Task One: Log Line

Write the following information:

  • The protagonist: Lonely man
  • The goal of the protagonist: find his place
  • The antagonist: Incessant worry, obsessive doubt

        4. Then, try fitting this information into this structure:


Therefore: A lonely man tries to discover his identity but must overcome his own internal anxieties.

   5. Ask 4 questions about the story of [the novel] starting from the end and working your way to the beginning.

4. Why does Lionel not step up to the leadership role at L&L?

3. Why does Lionel forgo pursuing Kimmery if she is the only woman thus far in his life to not make him feel inferior?

2. Why does Lionel never get professional medical advice on his condition? Perhaps it would lead him closer to self-acceptance? Maybe some of the tensions in his life could be avoided? Maybe the symptoms could be alleviated?

1. Why doesn’t Lionel stand up for himself when the Minna men call him a Freakshow? Why does he let the abuse stand? Is it because he truly accepts himself, or is he self-deprecating?

6. Now that you have your answers you can construct a rudimentary outline of what will eventually become your log line:

Lionel, from the start, accepts the insults. He is passive in the abuse caused by his orphan family and the abuse he posses onto himself. Ultimately though, Lionel does struggle to assert himself and take responsibility for his life.

7. Now, make it less clunky and more focused + mention the aspect of the novel you’re discussing! Rewrite the log line so that that aspect is included. 

Lionel is in war against himself and the world as he tries to find his identity and purpose.

Task Three: Evidence

As mentioned in the reply, my rough draft lacks a variety of quotes and scenes from the novel. I need to find more passages from the middle of the novel (44-265).

Let’s brainstorm:

“My constellation of behaviors was ‘unique as a snowflake,’ oh joy, and evolving, like some microscoped crystal in slow motion, to reveal new facets, and to spread from its place at my private core to cover my surface, my public front. The freak show was now the whole show…” (82).





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