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Screenwriting Essentials: How To Create A Logline That Rocks!



You can create your logline in order to shape and understand a story idea, or you can create a logline after your script is done. Hint - by doing it BEFORE, the logline can help keep your story idea focused and on track. A solid logline effectively and concisely tells your story. Here is the essential information to make sure you create a rocking logline!

 

What Is A Logline?

 

The logline is the shortest written account of your phone which best conveys “what it's about”. Sometimes called a ‘one liner’  —  it doesn’t have to be just one sentence.

 

It isn’t your writing, in a way – it’s the concept of your story, the beating heart of it. Think of it as your story’s essence. The logline may be clever, conveying the strength of your idea. However, it’s not the execution of that idea. That will shine through more in your synopsis and ultimately, your script.

 

 In length, the long line is typically one or two sentences highlighting the most important dramatic core of your story. It's not the script, or the highlights - it's the most essential aspect of your story. The purpose of the logline is marketing - to compel the reader to either want to read your complete script or see your movie. The best place to read loglines is IMDB or on sites where you can movie tickets.

 

An example of a logline would be:

 

THE MATRIX. A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (IMDB, Kenneth Chisolm)

 

Where is the Logline used

 

The logline is not included inside of the pages of your screenplay. Think of it as bait in a very crowded fishing hole where the fish have an almost unlimited supply of food. The logline pitches your story – whether you say it in person, share in an email, or use as the basis of marketing materials (such as a 1-pager or deck).

 

How The Logline Is Used


The logline is used as a development tool and a marketing tool. Since it takes much less time than reading an entire script or treatment, it does the heavy lifting of conveying the story of your movie, to build that sense of ‘I wanna know what happens!’

 

Here are 3 ways a logline can be used.

  1. Before you’ve created a script, logline is written to pitch your movie idea to others. You might test it out on strangers in line for a movie, or send it to a few friends, like, hey, what do you think of this? Would you go see that movie?

  2. Once several people weigh in on your logline, any feedback can be used to improve it. 

  3. After your script is finished, send the logline to others as an introduction of your script – to market it.

 

How To Craft Your Logline

 

Author of Save the Cat, the late Blake Snyder has become a pivotal figure in teaching screenwriters how to structure and write their scripts. He has referred to the log line as the DNA of a movie. That means that any time you're working on your script, go back to the log line and it will help you keep focus in your story so it doesn’t go off the rails.


In the words of Stephen Covey, The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Here are some approaches:

My story is a (genre) called (title) about (hero) who wants (goal) despite (obstacle).” (Stephanie Palmer, www.goodinaroom.com)
 When your main character is acted upon, and something happens, he or she is forced to do__________, in order to achieve ________and prevent _____________. (Marilyn Horowitz, www.marilynhorowitz.com/)
[TITLE] is a [GENRE] about when [INCITING INCIDENT HAPPENS TO], a [PROTAGONIST] must [WANT TO ACHIEVE AN OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES WILL OCCUR]. Noam Kroll (www.noamkroll.com/)

 

If your story takes place in the past or future, and it’s relevant to the story, you must include that. Ditto for a setting that makes or breaks the story – like outer space, or a haunted pyramid in 300 BC.


If you think creating a logline is hard – you’re not wrong! It is challenging, and worth every minute you spend on it!


Helpful? If you have any questions, or need help with your logline, reach out!

 

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