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How to write a logline

E Hughes' photo
October 11, 2009

What is a logline?

A logline is a brief, but captivating  one-liner used to advertise a  movie or screenplay.

Generally, the more high concept your logline sounds should increase the odds  of the right people paying attention to it.

For example, the Matrix advertised  “The fight  for the future begins” on its movie posters. But if I were to write a complete logline for the movie  it would say,

“The fight for the future begins when a computer hacker learns the  world exists in the sophisticated alternate reality of a  computer program called ‘The Matrix‘”.

A little more than one line, but concise enough to read quickly and draw  interest in the plot.

In the the real world, the first thing we learn about Neo is that he is  a hacker. As “the One”, we later learn that he will eventually “hack” the  Matrix. His age, is not important enough to reveal in the logline, his  appearance is not important, but what he does for a living and how his alternate  lifestyle as a hacker affects the story. It’s important to point this  out without giving too much away.

In the example logline we learn about the protagonist and what he discovers.  What we don’t know is how the story turns out.  The point of your logline  is to give the reader information while at the same time, creating enough  suspense to draw the reader into the story, or better, draw an audience into a  movie theater.

If I were writing a logline for the Karate Kid, I would write “A  teenager from New Jersey moves to California where he meets a martial  artist who teaches him how to defend himself from local  bullies.”

We learn that the main character is a teenager,  from New Jersey and has  moved to California (Fish out of water), where he meets a martial artist (gains  a mentor) and defends himself from local bullies.

This logline has a lot more information than the Matrix example,  but is  generic enough to maintain a semblance of mystery and suspense.

The most important part to writing a logline is having a story or a plot  you can whittle down into a short description. As one of my peers aptly  explained, “a screenplay would need viable structure and concept to  yield a workable logline.”

Therefore, if you are having problems narrowing your plot down, you may want  to rework your script or storyline.

 

 

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