Great screenplays start with a great logline

You might have the most unique characters clashing brilliantly in a never-before-seen story arc, but none of that matters if you don’t have a logline that immediately grabs your reader by the throat.

There are simply so many screenplays vying for the attention of agents, managers, producers, and studio development execs that the odds of your script getting a fair evaluation are not in your favor.

But you can flip those odds on their ear with a logline that compels any reader to open your screenplay and commit to reading at least the first 10-20 pages (obviously, you need to be able to deliver what the logline promises).

Without that logline, your script won’t even get a professional read.

How is that possible?

As a writer, you need to understand just how many scripts cross a producer’s desk on a weekly basis. So many that all they have time for is a perfunctory glance at your logline. So it better be short, good, and to the point. Grammar and spelling must be flawless. Syntax should be active.

What a logline should NOT be:

1.     Long – don’t try to cram too many details into your logline. Keep it short and simple.

2.     Cluttered with too many adjectives and adverbs – if the logline is overly-literate or confusing and forces the reader to do a double-take, you’re now fighting an up hill battle (everyone is looking for a reason to not read your script. Don’t screw it up before they begin).

3.     Filled with punctuation. Avoid compound-complex sentences. Think “Hemingway” here.

4.     An explanation as to why the reader will love your script – Let the reader make that distinction. Nothing screams amateur more than a logline that reads “this is a heartwarming tale that will pull at your heart strings and make you desire a sequel.”

What does a great logline look like?

Every logline should be lean and to the point, answering the central questions that every producer will ask:

1.     Who is the main character?

2.     What does the main character want?

3.     What is in the way of the main character’s “want”?

4.     What’s at stake?

Examples of disastrous loglines:

  • It’s New Years, midnight, and when the car stops, so does your life.
  • Why does this suck? Because it completely fails to convey the elements of a story.  
  • “The Usual Suspects” meets “Avatar”
  • Why does this suck? Because it tells us nothing about the story…and tells us the writer is pretty lazy.
  • A treacherous suspense cocktail, based upon lies, revenge and lust. Our young, handsome politically aspirant, John Doe, is scouted by a bitter old government agent, Dave, to upset the status-quo.
  • Why does this suck? Because it’s not a log line at all. It could be a sequence in a movie, but it doesn’t give the reader a sense of what the story is as a whole.

Examples of loglines that work:

  •  When an army of evil monsters threatens civilization, a ragtag team of 2nd rate superhoes must band together to stop them.
  • What makes this good? It quickly tells us what the story is. It’s simple, straightforward, and we know who the heroes are, what they want, what’s at stake, and who’s in the way.
  • A marathon runner trains for the race of her life after learning she has limited use of her legs due to a debilitating illness.
  • What makes this a good logline? We know what this story is. We know who the main character is, what she wants, what’s in way of the want, and what’s at stake.
  • A family camping trip in the woods turns deadly when they cross paths with a recently paroled psychopath.
  • What’s so good about this one? Again, we know what this movie is. It’s clear and simple…and it says it all in a single sentence.

Putting together an effective logline is not easy. You might want to start by checkout out more examples of  great loglines at FilmDaily Tv

When you’ve got that logline tuned up and you’re ready to have your script considered by working Hollywood industry pros, be sure to submit before the next deadline at The Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards.

Conclusion:

Keep your logline simple and to the point. Simplicity is your friend in this industry. Now it depends on the originality of your story. Simplicity + Originality = Highest chances of success.

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