Script Insights: Five Tips for Writing Your Logline

A logline is a summary of your script. It conveys the dramatic story - condensed into one sentence (more complex scripts sometimes require a two-sentence logline). The logline is not the same as the film’s tagline, which is a catchy, short-phrase or slogan used by film studios to market a movie.

TAGLINES

  • “The End Begins” (Terminator Salvation)
  • “How do you break free without breaking apart?” (Revolutionary Road)
  • “You think you know who you are. You have no idea” (Crash)

The logline effectively communicates the concept and the central problem that the main character needs to resolve.

LOGLINES

  • “A drunken superhero, who has fallen out of favor with the community, meets a do-good public relations professional who tries to help him repair his image.” (Hancock)

  • After his wife and youngest child are brutally murdered, an Irish mobster hits the road with his surviving twelve year-old son and seeks revenge on those who betrayed him.” (Road to Perdition)

  • On his final run, an ex-cop turned bounty hunter must track a bail-jumping accountant/mob embezzler and drag him cross-country from New York to Los Angeles while eluding the FBI, the mob, and a rival bounty hunter.” (Midnight Run)

  • In 13th century Scotland, a common man becomes a legend when he leads an uprising to overthrow English rule and gain Scottish freedom.” (Braveheart)

  • Three police officers unravel the truth behind the ‘random’ murder of a corrupt policeman and expose the political and judicial depravity of 1950’s Hollywood.” (L.A. Confidential)

Why do you need a logline?

  1. Creating a logline is a crucial first step in planning your screenplay. The logline is a tool you can use when writing and revising your script to keep you focused.

  2. You will need a logline to sell your screenplay. 

Five Tips for Writing Your Logline:

  1. Establish the Main Character
    Who is the protagonist - an ex-cop, a gunslinger, an Irish mobster, a super-hero?

  2. State the Main Character’s Need or Goal
    What does your main character want – to get revenge, to find the truth, to repair his image, to track a bail-jumper, to free his people from tyranny?


  3. Provide a Promise of Conflict
    What obstacles does your protagonist face in achieving his goal – corrupt law enforcement, another bounty hunter, the FBI and the mob, English military rule, his own character flaw?

  4. Stimulate Interest with a Hook
    What is unique about the story – a super-hero that’s an alcoholic, a mobster on-the-road with his young son?


  5. Convey All Relevant Information
    A studio executive who has not read your script should be able to read your logline and fully understand the concept without any additional information. Do not include character intricacies, sub-plots, or specific scenes.

Now go write your logline!