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What Is A Logline?

When asking yourself how to create a logline, make sure you first understand what it is. A log line is a one- or two-sentence description that captures the essence of your narrative most efficiently.

Someone reading your logline should get a great sense of what your entire screenplay is about after reading it. You will include all of the crucial story elements in your logline and leave everything else out.

Think of it as your elevator pitch.

If someone were to ask you what your story was about right now, would you be able to tell them in 25 words or less? Or would you do what we all normally do when we don’t have an exact idea of what the core story is about -- and that is to begin explaining everything about what happens until finally we realize it’s been over ten minutes and the person listening is either half listening or asleep by now?

What a logline is NOT

Don’t confuse a log line with a “tagline.” The logline is everything described in the previous paragraph. It helps you stay on track when you’re writing your story. It’s used as an elevator pitch to anyone who asks about the story.

Professionals in the industry will use it to describe your story to their peers and colleagues. A tagline, on the other hand, is the marketing gimmick you typically see on movie posters. You can find many tag lines in your local TV Guide or IMDB.

Let’s take a look at a few tag lines the marketing department (or whoever was involved) came up with in some popular movies from the past.

How to Write a Logline

How to Write a Logline

How to Write a Logline

How to Write a Logline

What should a good logline have?

A good log line will have these elements contained somewhere within:

  1.  A clear protagonist
  2. His or her goal
  3. The antagonist or whatever is standing in the protagonist’s way from achieving their goal

Use adjectives to describe your characters best.

There are other ingredients you can add to your logline that will spice things up as well, but it’s not mandatory. Some of these ingredients will be ways to use clever adjectives to describe your character.

What reads and sounds better to you when describing a character in a logline?

A policeman who’s depressed? Or a grief-stricken cop?

A public speaker who hates his job? Or a pessimistic motivational speaker?

A pretty high school girl? Or the high school prom queen type of chick?

These adjectives give your reader a general or clear understanding of who this character is. Or at least what they’re like and how they’re viewed in the story.

 

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Jay Carver

Jay Carver is a screenwriter, director and producer. Through his production company J-Style Films, he has done work for companies such as Turner Broadcasting. In the past, he has worked with Hollywood actor Omari Hardwick and won several film festivals including "Best Director".