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Advice on...
Loglines

The idea of a logline is, to sum up your script in as few words as possible. You want to excite the reader, so they crave to know more. It is basically a word-trailer, instead of trying to get someone to watch the film, you are using it to get them to read the script.

What is a Logline?

The idea of a logline is, to sum up your script in as few words as possible. You want to excite the reader, so they crave to know more. It is basically a word-trailer, instead of trying to get someone to watch the film, you are using it to get them to read the script.


​The information that you want to try and share is

  • Your protagonist

  • The inciting incident

  • The action/conflict

  • The antagonists

  • The protagonist’s goal

  • What is at stake if they fail


You could also aim to show the protagonist’s wants/needs and any type of ‘ticking time bomb’ that is pushing the story along. Oh, and make sure it is in the genre of the story. Don't worry, I have purposely thrown it all in there, so it sounds impossible. It is a lot easier than the above, plus we have top tips and a cheat sheet.


Example Logline?

Jaws

(35 words)

“A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.”

Our protagonist is Martin Brody, husband, and father of two boys, he nearly drowned once and has recently moved to the town. All information that’s important to the script, but not the logline.​ I have not picked this example because it ticks all the things on the impossible list, in fact, I picked it because I think it is clever in what it leaves out. Look at the list again and try and find them, some are there, but others you can feel despite being missing.


The logline for Jaws introduces protagonist Chief Martin Brody and his conflict with a 'gigantic' shark. My favourite line is 'appetite for swimmers and boat captains', you expect swimmers, but Boat Captains sets up the film's suspenseful tone. It also mentions the town council's greed, which, for me, is the main conflict in the film because sharks aren't dangerous if no-one is in the water. (Sharknado aside)


The Jaw's logline is clear, concise, and attention-grabbing and uses strong language and imagery to create a sense of suspense and excitement. BUT there isn’t one perfect way of writing a logline, some ideas don’t fit as nicely, and you need to offer other information to sell the idea. Here are two loglines from Netflix that they have broken down. Then a few examples of successful shows for you to look at. 


Stranger Things

When a young boy disappears (inciting incident), his mother, a police chief, and his friends (protagonists) must confront (action) terrifying forces (antagonists) in order to get him back.​

Arrested Development

A young man (protagonist) leads (action) his oddball family (antagonists) and their real-estate-development business (goal) following a securities-fraud fiasco that put the father in jail (stake). 

Most of these examples have something that I have been told 'not' to do, so this is just another reminder,

Do what works for you. 

Pulp Fiction

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Frozen

When the newly-crowned Queen Elsa accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter, her sister Anna teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a snowman to change the weather condition.​

You’ve Got Mail

A book superstore magnate and an independent bookshop owner fall in love via the anonymity of the Internet, both blissfully unaware that the former is trying to put the latter out of business. 

Friends

Six friends living in New York navigate the personal and professional ups and downs of their twenties and thirties. 

The Walking Dead

Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins and must lead a group of survivors to evade the undead and stay alive. 

(It is also worth remembering that these loglines are off the internet)


The main thing to remember is that the logline has one job, if it does that job, you have done it correctly. Below are two links, one is a 'One way to write a logline template' and the other is a Blog with Top tips to remember while writing it.


Worksheet on the Web

Downloadable Worksheet

Rough Drafts worksheet - Loglines
.docx
Download DOCX • 22KB



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