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How To Write A Logline That Will Sell Your Screenplay

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by Script Reader Pro in How To Write A Screenplay
April 25, 2011 10 comments
how to write a logline

As you know, encapsulating your story’s concept in a solid film logline is essential before you start writing. Here are our top screenwriting tips on how to write a logline which succinctly sums up the core conflict and engages the reader.

how to write a script

1. Your Film Logline Should Be Ready To Burst Under The  Pressure

By this we mean pressure on your character to act in a certain way and / or make a certain decision. If your character is just doing something in your logline because they want to, maybe try forcing them to do it instead.

Let’s take a look at a few logline examples:

In Collateral, Max is forced to drive Vincent around town all night on his killing spree, rather than doing it because he wants the money.

In Sideways, Miles is forced into a different kind of wine tour than he expected by Jack, rather than both of them agreeing to try and get laid.

Forcing your protagonist to act a certain way enhances the logline because it raises the stakes and the conflict.

It’s always good to eliminate all possible escape routes for your protagonist, box them in a corner and then try and get them out of it.

2. Tell Us One Idea, Not Many

This is a key thing to remember when learning how to write a logline.

Often movie loglines tend to jump from one idea to the next “When a farm boy discovers a magic portal to another world he realizes his imaginary friend is real and together they must find the princess before the king raises the taxes and the evil queen invades with her army.

Keep your script logline simple, people. Tell us who the protagonist is, what they want and what’s at stake.

3. Irony Makes Things Interesting

What’s the most ironic situation your character could find themselves in, given their personality?

Here’s a few logline examples:

In Private Benjamin, the most unlikely place you’d find a fussy, pampered woman like Judy is the army.

In The King’s Speech, it’s ironic that the King, whose royal position involves public speaking, can’t talk without stammering.

Irony strengthens a logline immeasurably because it strengthens the core conflict by making it that much more surprising, intriguing and dramatic.

4. Exploit the Ordinary Protagonist / Extraordinary World Dichotomy

Is your script set somewhere extraordinary, or involve extraordinary circumstances? If so, make sure it’s implicit in the logline where we are and what’s extraordinary about the world.

Then, make sure your protagonist is as ordinary as possible. Combine the two and, hey, you have a stronger screenplay logline!

Here are some more logline examples:

Wanted — loser office worker >> professional assassin

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — shy office worker >> racing through his memories

5. Exploit the Extraordinary Protagonist / Ordinary World Dichotomy

So, you have an extraordinary protagonist, where’s the best place to set your story? That’s right, in the most ordinary place possible compared to their world.

Coming to America — African prince >> New York

Enchanted — cartoon princess >> New York

Follow these points and you’ve answered the most basic question of how to write a logline and a great script.

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Of course, sometimes you may want to just start writing without nailing a rock solid screenplay logline. That’s fine. Great script loglines have been known to evolve and become clearer over a series of drafts.

But on the whole I’d always advise coming up with as good a script logline as you possibly can before starting out on that first draft.

10 Comments
  1. Marcus Cook says:

    Irony in a logline has to be the most important thing for me. Blake Snyder talks about this a lot and you guys are spot on as well. I’ll be using you guys soon!

  2. Rehman P says:

    There are definitely some good points here but I think a script idea should just flow naturally. You should just know what to put down without analysing it. I get most of my best ideas when I’m just waking up, that moments between sleep and conscious.

  3. Jules says:

    Where can I find more info on this? Someone told me once there was a book on writing loglines but I don’t know what one.

  4. Ray says:

    Can I send you my logline for your opinion?

  5. Boaj says:

    How do I make sure my logline is good enough? How do I no?

  6. Lucy says:

    “A woman obsessed with fashion lands a job at a top fashion magazine but finds things don’t go as she planned.”

  7. Gavin says:

    Just starting out with this screenwriting business and this helps a bunch. Thanks.

  8. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the info guys, this will help me refine my logline.

  9. Harmony Iwobi says:

    Can I send for you my script. It’s for a script that is full of romance and mystical adventure that will amaze all who see it. It is ready for production. Thank you dear.

  10. Vic says:

    Why does a logline have to be only two sentences?

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