Logline Writing Basics

This is one of those aspects of being a screenwriter that I always struggle with – compellingly summing up my story in a sentence or two. It sounds like it should be easy enough, but a poor logline can be the Achilles heel of a great script. If you can’t sell it in a logline, no one will give it a chance.

Here’s an article from the Story Bodyguard on writing a clear, concise, compelling logline:

When you create your logline you are aiming for succinct and emotional.  Choose active, colorful verbs.  The action of the story is what creates interest.

The logline is about 35 words so every word must count to give impact to the story.  This is your quick pitch whether written or verbal.  Give it punch.

You need to know the basic beginning, middle and end of your story as well as the main theme (even if they change later) in order to write the logline.

Here’s the formula Blake Snyder proposes, it’s a good one:

On the verge of a Stasis=Death moment, a flawed protagonist Breaks into Two; but when the Midpoint happens, he/she must learn the Theme Stated, before All Is Lost.

  • Right at the beginning your protagonist is stuck somehow.
  • He/she has a flaw, weakness.
  • Something happens to push the protagonist into a conflict situation.
  • At the middle the protagonist is challenged to learn/get/implement the theme.
  • Because, otherwise, everything is lost.

Even if the story itself is convoluted the logline is straightforward and hints at the main essence of the story.  Here’s the logline for Inception.

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception

Think about your story and then write several loglines.  You may end up combining different elements to finally arrive at your best.

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