It’s the one component of screenwriting that requires careful thought and continued practice to master.
Films come to life and get made due to the grit and strength of a logline.
It may be easy to begin writing scenes based on an idea or plot, but sustaining your film from start to finish will go much easier if you begin the creative process with an airtight logline.
As a writer trying to take your first crack at screenwriting this is what you need to know:
A LOGLINE is a succinct sentence that shows what your film is about.
It must be powerful, answer questions, and incite the desire to know how it all ends.
In essence, a solid logline reveals what your script will be about.
Now that, that’s covered, lets dive into why loglines are necessary to begin with:
Loglines are crucial to selling your script. It serves as an opportunity for you to generate interests from producers, directors, agents, and studios.
Think of loglines as your cover letter and your script the resume. One must follow the other.
Many argue that you can write your logline after you’ve completed the first draft of your script.
I believe the contrary. Loglines can serve as the blueprint for your film. It’s like having a mini outline for your entire film. They help tremendously in your film idea being fleshed out.
If you are lost on any part of your plot when brainstorming your film idea, then a logline will help you get grounded and achieve clarity.
In the spirit of brainstorming, loglines are ideal to craft during the brainstorming phase or right afterwards. Once again, before the actual scriptwriting takes place. That’s the sweet spot.
James Burbidge from film festival heavy weight, Raindance, offers that loglines must include; a protagonist, their goal, and the antagonist.
Just from examining those structural elements, they reinforce how fluent and tight a logline must be in order to serve its purpose successfully.
The logline examples below from Elements of Cinema hits on all of the must haves that Burbidge highlights:
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS – A press agent, hungry to get ahead, is pushed by a ruthless columnist to do cruel and evil things, and is eventually caught in the web of lies that he has created.
BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY – An Iowa housewife, stuck in her routine, must choose between true romance and the needs of her family.
ROTHCHILD – A young, well-educated loner kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in hopes that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune.
All four seamlessly tell the tale of a movie. As a reader, you find yourself wanting to know more.
When you achieve that with your logline, you are able to command the attention of influencers.
To exercise your logline muscles, try the free online service, Logline It. Hands down, it is the best destination on the web for being able to quickly share your logline and get feedback. There is a feeling of community there, and as writers, tribe building is a must.
Scripts are written everyday by talented screenwriters and unfortunately many of those scripts never see any action.
Breaking into this industry is tough. You have to use every weapon available and build an arsenal. Writing a logline for your script is one of those weapons.
It can give you an advantage amongst competition. It demonstrates to potential collaborators and gatekeepers that you have a clear vision for your film and that you mean business.
Now its time to turn the discussion back to you, have you ventured into the logline world?
If so, how did you feel about writing one?
Was it difficult, smooth sailing, time consuming?
We’d love to know. Share in comments and we will reply with any insight and tips we can.
CJ Childress is currently wrapping up her first paranormal novella and the script adaptation for it.
She is also lovingly knee deep in two major non-fiction book projects, one as a ghostwriter, and the other for aspiring authors. You can find her on twitter HERE.