How To Write A Logline That Reels in Any Audience
Writing a good screenplay is a physical, mental and emotional marathon.
Whittling it down to a line or two to get someone to read what you just poured your heart and soul into? Now that is a more precise and daunting challenge.
Let’s face it, having an accomplished producer or agent read 100+ pages from an unknown writer and then expecting them to send you a response (even if a negative one) is a major endeavor in and of itself.
As artists, our creations are like our children. We conceive them in a moment of mental passion and stimulation; but as business artists or salesmen, we must forge a quick connection with someone who has the power to breathe life into “our baby”.
Writers can sometimes spend too much time on the technique and format of the script, forgetting the most important aspect of getting your story seen and heard, which is: Writing a Logline that conveys the entirety of your story concept in 3-5 compelling sentences.
When you know how to write a captivating logline in a clear and concise way, it leaves the reader wanting more. In layman’s terms, the logline is the TV Guide version of your movie or that short blurb on Netflix that makes you press “Play.”
Here are four major components that are always included in a strong logline and each of these elements will help sell your script on the page and in the room.
4 Steps to Writing A Logline
- Protagonist: Every story needs a protagonist because that’s the lead character that drives every story. For instance, in the film “Creed” there was two protagonists: “Rocky” and “Adonis Johnson”. Their character traits helped to define the film and also move the storyline forward. With that in mind, it’s imperative that you answer the following questions regarding your protagonist(s): 1) What is the protagonist’s distinctive character trait?; 2) What is the protagonist’s professional background or aspirations?; and 3) In relation to the protagonist’s community, who is he or she? Lastly, giving your protagonist a name in the logline is not necessary, but could help if that name tells us something interesting about the character.
- Adjectives: Stories are about journeys. The journey and experiences that change characters – for better, or for worse. Your protagonist must have an arc – that is, he/she must be a different person at the end of your story, or else why did we just give up a few hours of our lives to see your movie or TV show ? And however your character ends up, use adjectives opposite of the ones you used to describe your character when they started out.
- Goal: What is your protagonist seeking: Forgiveness, Fulfillment, Revenge, Redemption, Love? After all, this is why you wrote your story in the first place. The goal is about the pursuit of “something”. This also hints at the plot of your story and gives the reader an idea of what they’re getting themselves into. In your logline, you want to tease as to what this journey is all about without revealing too much of the plot line, similar to how movie trailers are crafted.
- Opposition: No story is compelling without drama and some source of internal or external conflict – or perhaps both. Drama is created when someone desires something, sets out to get it and is met with opposition. This is where you insert your “cyborg from the future,” or killer storm that threatens the existence of mankind.
Hollywood champions stories of the underdog, and what better example to use than the granddaddy of them all, Rocky—the iconic movie that tells the story of a Philly boxer who must overcome insurmountable odds despite the life that surrounds him.. Here’s the Logline from the original 1976 this Oscar-winning film: “Rocky Balboa is a down on his luck, underachieving amateur fighter, who wants to prove to the world he’s not a bum. But his only chance at redemption is if he can go the distance against the toughest man on the planet; the undefeated, heavyweight champion of the world – Apollo Creed
There are numerous ways to word your logline and one could spend a few hours, if not days, crafting the perfect one. But this model can be used for any story that you want to tell.
It might even be a good idea to write the logline before you write the movie. After all, how are you going to convince anybody else that you’re the next big thing if you can’t convince yourself?