TOP TEN LOGLINE TIPS
May 23rd, 2014
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“What is that script about?”
A logline is a one-sentence plot summary; it is also known as a written pitch. The first step in writing a logline is to ask yourself: “What is my script about?” and then answer the question.
A logline is not a tagline, as seen in a movie trailer or movie advertisement, such as in this example:
BAD LOGLINE EXAMPLE #1
Will Jenny overcome her demons before it’s too late?
WHY IT’S BAD
• It sounds like a movie trailer.
• It doesn’t tell us what the story is about or what the major conflict is.
• The phrase “too late” doesn’t tell us what’s at stake in your story.
• It includes the character’s name, which loglines should not.
• Jenny could be a child, a teen or an adult.
• It doesn’t tell us who Jenny really is.
Loglines must clearly and succinctly convey what the core of your story is about, using your story arc as your guide.
BAD LOGLINE EXAMPLE #2
It’s a story about a teacher who learned life lessons as she discovered the meaning of life.
WHY IT’S BAD
• It’s written in the past tense.
• “It’s a story about” is too wordy and unnecessary.
• We don’t know what type of teacher or person she is.
• “Learns life lessons” and “discovering the meaning of life” identifies the themes of the story, and it repeats the word ‘life.” (A logline must not include the theme of your script; it should be evident.)
• It doesn’t tell us what the story is about or what major obstacle she must overcome.
TOP TEN LOGLINE TIPS
Describe your story and setting, your protagonist, and his or her major goal and conflict/obstacle.
Use present tense.
Every word must do double duty. Less is more.
Indicate how your characters are distinct by using strong adjectives to describe them.
Show the reader how your story is different and unique, and what sets it apart.
Avoid wordy phrases such as “It’s a story about…” or “We follow the journey of …” just tell what the story is about.
Don’t include characters’ names.
Define who your protagonist is.For example, include your protagonist’s profession, idiosyncrasies and/or flaws.
Don’t inundate the reader with useless information or get bogged down in plot and/or character details.
Don’t write a run-on sentence.
Impress film industry folks with your writing craft by taking the time to create a logline that accurately reflects your screenplay.
To learn more about loglines (and more), buy my books at http://su-city-pictures.com/buy-susans-books/ THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! and SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises. (Save $1.00 off the $14.95 price by clicking on https://www.createspace.com/3558862 and use DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD. On Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009SB8Z7M (discount code does not apply). www.su-city-pictures.com; http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/
About the Author
Susan Kouguell, award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, is the author of THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER and SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises (available at $1.00 with DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD: https://www.createspace.com/3558862 ). Susan is a regular contributor to Indiewire/SydneysBuzz, Script Magazine and The Script Lab.
Kouguell teaches screenwriting at Purchase College, SUNY and presents international seminars. As chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990, Kouguell works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, executives and studios worldwide. Recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the MacDowell Colony, Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Edward Albee Foundation, Kouguell’s short films are in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and archives, and were included in the Whitney Museum’s Biennial. Kouguell worked with director Louis Malle on his film And the Pursuit of Happiness, was a story analyst and story editor for many studios, (Paramount, Viacom, Dustin Hoffman’s Punch Productions), wrote voice-over narrations for (Harvey Weinstein) Miramax and over a dozen feature assignments for independent companies. www.su-city-pictures.com. Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell on Twitter, and read more articles on her blog: http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/.