How To Write A Logline: A Complete Guide For Screenwriters     

April 8th, 2022  |  by maria

How To Write A Logline: A Complete Guide For Screenwriters -

Writing a compelling and engaging logline can do wonders for your screenplay. Your logline is just as important as your screenplay. This is because a logline presents an overview of your subject matter. You can check your script's marketability and assess your writing skills with a logline. These components highlight the importance of crafting a logline.

A great logline should sell your writing and generate interest in your audience. If you want to catch the attention of producers, agents and development executives, you need to write an impressive logline. A well-crafted logline can lead you to a career-defining opportunity.

The film industry is fast-paced; therefore, if you want to grab an industry executive's attention, you need a compelling logline. Loglines are a better way to market your writing as they are shorter than screenplays. Most film executives don't have time to sift through pages of a script, so a logline serves as your first impression.

Knowing just how important a longline is, it can be a little intimidating to write one. This article will serve as a guide for screenwriters to write the perfect logline. In this article, we will explore topics such as what is a logline? And how to write a logline? Plus many more.

Let's dive right in!

What Is A Logline?

A logline is more than just a summary of your story. With a logline, you should aim to describe the concept of your story. You don't need to include every detail, as this might make your logline look messy and difficult to read.

If you want to market your screenplay but don't have concrete information such as character names, you can still write up a logline to entice your audience. A perfect logline should include the main character, setup, main conflict, and main antagonist. These elements should be presented clearly and concisely, serving as a teaser to your story.

Take a look at this logline from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

"A high school wise guy is determined to have a day off from school, despite what the Principal thinks of that."

Another version of the film's logline reads,

"A charming and charismatic teen devises the perfect sick day."

The Ferris Bueller example shows how you should write your logline. In that logline, you don't know the character's name, yet you get an idea of what the main character is like, the setting, the conflict, and the antagonist. All the information is presented neatly in two simple lines.

Side characters, B storylines, and any twist or unexpected reveals should be left for the actual screenplay.

How Long Is A Standard Logline?

According to common industry practices, loglines should be one sentence long. Some screenwriting experts also suggest writing a logline of only 30 words. However, in most cases, you can write a logline that takes up two sentences or use 50 words maximum, especially if your story is complex.

Logline vs. Tagline: What Is The Difference?

A logline and tagline might seem similar on the surface, but they have different structures and serve different purposes. A logline is a short description of a movie's concept written to attract producers and agents to a script.

However, a tagline is a witty slogan or clever statement used to advertise a finished film to moviegoers. In short, loglines are meant to be descriptions, and taglines are meant to be suggestive.

When To Write A Logline?

The ideal time to write a logline is when you have finished writing your script. You have all the components necessary to write a logline with your script in hand. Remember, a logline is supposed to market your script; therefore, it is important to complete your story beforehand, even if it's just a draft.

You can also write your logline as you are writing your script. This will make it easier to make any changes necessary, and it will also highlight the best point to market your script with. A logline can serve as an anchor for your story. You can use your logline to edit your script.

Rewrites are an essential part of any form of writing. You may change your logline several times, and that is completely okay! When you begin writing your logline, always keep in mind that several parts of your story may change and give yourself room to grow.

What Are The Main Components Of A Logline?

You can be as creative as you want with your logline, but always make sure to include these key elements.

  • Your Protagonist
  • An inciting incident
  • Protagonist's goal
  • Central conflict

You don't need to write your logline in this order; however, it is important to include all these facts in a logline. These key components serve as the backbone of your logline.

Five Tips On How To Craft The Perfect Logline

How To Write A Logline: A Complete Guide For Screenwriters     

1.    Describe Your Protagonist

Make sure to be as descriptive as possible when writing your protagonist in your logline. In your logline, your protagonist's description should serve a purpose in your storyline. Avoid giving descriptions of qualities that are not relevant to the story, as your logline needs to be concise.

2.    Setting Up Your World

Just like the protagonist's description, you should describe your setting in a manner that is relevant to your setting. Think about why this particular setting is important and how does it add to your story?

3.    Describe Your Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is crucial to set the story in motion. The inciting incident is sometimes called the "call to adventure."

Keeping this in mind, the inciting incident should be something that motivates the protagonist to take action. What is this particular event that changes your protagonist's life? Is it death? A new phase of life? Or a visit by someone from the past? It would be best if you summarized this incident when adding it to your logline.

4.    What Is Your Protagonist's Goal?

Your main character's goal serves as their primary function in the story. Make sure to highlight what your character wants or needs in your logline. When you talk about the protagonist's goals, the reader becomes more involved in the story or empathizes with your character. The goal should always be the protagonist's primary motivation in the story.

5.    What Is The Central Conflict?

A strong conflict can sometimes make or break your plot. With a well-crafted conflict, your story can fall apart. When you are thinking of a conflict, write down a list of obstacles that are stopping your protagonist from achieving their goals. Your conflict can be in the form of an antagonist, a psychological obstacle, or even a physical obstacle.

Can Loglines Break The Rules?

Now that you know how to craft a solid logline, let's look at how you can break the rules with your logline.

While a traditional logline works well in the industry, there are some ways you can think outside of the box. If your story is avant-garde and heavily artistic, a traditional logline might not work for you. If you are going to write an unconventional logline, make sure it enhances your story while still retaining the key components.

Sometimes breaking the rules might make things even more complex. The great thing about loglines is that they are simple and eye-catching. An overcomplicated logline may ruin the message of your story, so be careful if you want to break the rules.

Examples Of Loglines

Here are some examples of loglines from famous films to inspire you to write your own logline.

  • Die Hard - "An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles."
  • Titanic - "Two star-crossed lovers fall in love on the maiden voyage of the Titanic and struggle to survive as the doomed ship sinks into the Atlantic Ocean."
  • Finding Nemo - "When his son is swept out to sea, an anxious clownfish embarks on a perilous journey across a treacherous ocean to bring him back."

For more inspiration, you can check out IMDB pages for loglines. Find inspiration from movies that fit the genre of your story.

Final Takeaway

Your longline is one of the most crucial parts of your screenwriting process. A logline is the selling point of your script, and it is also the backbone of your story. Without a logline, it will be difficult to write a marketable script.

Your logline should be simple and concise to maximize the potential of your script.

If you liked this article, you should also check out Point of View in Filmmaking

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