Your logline is perhaps the most important sentence—or sentences—you will ever develop for your feature pitch or series treatment. It is also one of the most difficult to write as it must summarise 120 pages or more of standardised screenwriting.
As the first thing industry professionals will read, your logline should aim to encapsulate your script’s essential dramatic narrative as succinctly as possible to show your credibility as a screenwriter.
Yes, formulas do exist for this kind of thing, but they aren’t perfect—and it is generally a good idea to have written your logline before you even begin writing your script. Why? So you’ll always have it in the back of your mind as you go along.
If you are not sure where to start, here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Don’t Get Your Terms Mixed Up
Understand that a logline is not a tagline. Many people get these terms confused and make things infinitely harder on themselves. Your logline summarises your script and its tagline should promote it.
In other words, a logline is for internal use between yourself and any potential studio executives, producers and financial backers while a tagline is a clever piece of marketing designed to appeal to your audience.
2. Write in the Active Voice
Whether your protagonist is an active one that has a hand in the way events take shape or is reactive and plays an important part to play in resolving them, be sure to write your logline in the active voice.
Using passive voice makes things harder for the reader and there is no good reason to fall into this trap. Active voice has to do with the order in which you explain things so the next time you sit down to write your logline, try it out.
3. Make Sure Your Logline has Three Things
Whether you are using a formula or not, every logline must have:
1. A protagonist
2. A main goal for the protagonist
3. An antagonist or antagonistic force.
4. Add Stakes or a Hard Deadline
Some loglines do include a timeframe in which the protagonist must complete their objective to add a sense of urgency, which is perfectly fine if your script calls for it and you can find a way to work it in.
5. Do Not Give the Ending Away
Under no circumstances should you reveal the ending to your script. Doing so would completely and immediately deflate any impact your story might have had.
Your logline should entice the reader enough to make them want to read the actual 120 page script and experience the story much like an audience member would. So let them do it.
And with that, let us know if we can help. If you would like us to develop a logline or any other pitch material such as character breakdowns, a synopsis, episode summaries or even a treatment, please contact us.
Good luck and happy writing!