Summarizing an entire screenplay is not an easy thing to do. Let alone in 1-2 sentences. But it is what’s required if you want to pitch your script to a producer or studio. When you send out your script too, the logline sometimes determines if someone even reads it. So, what is a logline? We’re not going to stop at the definition, we’ve got a tried-and-true formula for crafting the perfect hook.
Crafting the perfect logline is a subtle art
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What is a Logline in Film
Movie loglines defined
Between writing treatments, synopses, and taglines, industry jargon can sometimes get criss-crossed. So, what is a logline anyway? After this quick logline definition, we'll go over some tips of how to approach writing one, with some examples from iconic films.
What is a logline?
A logline is a one or two sentence summary of your screenplay that conveys the premise but also adds an emotional aspect that hooks the reader.
It includes the main character, set-up, and central conflict in a concise, enticing way.
The Godfather: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Titanic: Two star-crossed lovers fall in love aboard the R.M.S. Titanic and struggle to keep their relationship afloat as the doomed ship sinks into the Atlantic.
Part of our free TV Writing and Development masterclass includes a logline formula. Get familiar with the formula watching the video above.
Crafting the perfect logline is a subtle art.
The goal is to write a teaser that hooks the reader enough to make them want to read the entire script.
So, how do you do that? What should you consider?
What are the components?
Now that you have the definition down, let’s identify its parts so we can get to crafting one. It's really simple — you need a protagonist, a goal, an inciting incident and conflict.
writing A logline
- Identify the protagonist
- What’s their goal?
- Inciting Incident
Let’s use our Titanic example from before to see how the writer considered all four of these components.
- Our protagonist(s)? Two star-crossed lovers.
- Inciting Incident? They meet and fall in love on the ship.
- Goal? Keep their relationship afloat.
- Conflict? The ship is sinking.
Yep, they nailed it. But do you notice anything else they did well? They didn’t get too into specifics, right?
We also threw in more examples in the freeform feature of StudioBinder’s screenwriting software. Once you know the pattern, you can see it in all of these logline examples.
We've defined loglines and we've reviewed some examples. We've also gone over the basic components of a successful logline. Next up, we're going to cover some insider tips on how to approach writing a logline. On the way, make sure you download our free logline formula template.
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How to Write a Logline
Tips to consider
Here are a few tips to consider before crafting begins.
- Don’t give away the ending.
- No need to use the character’s name. It provides no real value.
- Give a little depth to the character. Brevity is key.
- Describe the conflict by revealing STAKES (e.g., the ship sinking).
- Irony is engaging (e.g., they’re trying to keep their relationship afloat while a ship is sinking).
- Use active language (e.g., the word, “struggles” is stronger than less active phrases like “has a hard time”).
Remember, you’re selling your story, not telling the whole thing.
In our TV Writing and Development masterclass, we have a detailed guide on how to write a logline. For more resources, or if you’re curious about how to write one for television, get a free logline formula.
How to write a logline
Now that we've answered "what is a logline," the next step is go even further into how to actually write one of them. You may think writing a single sentence is easy but loglines are deceptively difficult. How do you crunch a 100-page screenplay down into a single sentence? We'll explain how it works with even more logline examples and a downloadable logline formula template.