How to write a logline

January 20, 2020 - 2 min read

Every movie starts with a logline. It's not just your "lightbulb" moment, when "Oh, that would make a great movie" appears in your head, but also a universal tool to present your film.

A logline is your story a distilled into one concise sentence aimed to engage a reader.  It plays three important roles:

A logline is brief, clear and catchy. Brevity is a skill. Ability to express ideas clearly is also a skill.  It's equally hard as crucial, but like any skill, it can be learned. Here are 6 steps of how you can write a logline.

  1. Start with a formula and define each step. StudioBinder suggests two (you can find a few great examples there):

  2. INCIDENT + PROTAGONIST + ACTION + ANTAGONIST. When something happens our hero makes action against the antagonist.

  3. PROTAGONIST + ACTION + ANTAGONIST + GOAL + STAKE. The protagonist does something against the antagonist to achieve a goal with really high stakes.

  4. Include a setup - an initial state, inciting incident, what drives the story to begin.

  5. Describe your main character with the best adjective you can find. A crazy scientist, a drug-addicted priest, a malevolent paladin.
  6. Set a specific goal which your character wants to achieve and a basic action required to accomplish it.
  7. Describe the antagonist as well as the main character.
  8. Include stakes together with goals - it increases our desire to know more.

Although a logline tells a story, it should also sell it. A logline must be brief, witty and catchy. A few techniques to achieve that:

And the last thing. Remember that you can always break the rules. The best logline does that. Be unique and don't let the rules to suppress your creativity.

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