Loglines: I am NOT an expert and I don’t play one on TV.

log

This log has lines.

The logline has become an all important and nearly unattainable enigma to screenwriters everywhere.

Relax writers.  It’s a sentence to give an idea of what your script is about.  More accurately…like.

Most loglines  are too wordy.  Too confusing.  And too…well just really, really bad.

Writers want to throw everything in the logline in hopes something will catch the attention of potential readers.  In reality, readers — be they agents, managers or producers — are looking for a specific type of script.  They want know if yours is that script.  Your log line should convey that – genre, setting, etc.  Nothing more.  In other words:

It is not a summary.

Let me repeat in all caps.

IT IS NOT A SUMMARY.

The worst kind of logline is an inaccurate one.  When it sounds like a romantic comedy but is in fact a tragic drama.

That’s bad.

Hit the beats of the theme.  Forget subplots, c-stories or overly describing a character. Less is more.

A poster to a popular screenwriting forum recently asked for input for the following three loglines for the same script:

“A famous explorer kidnapped, a mysterious damsel in distress and a tale of a fabled pyramid, housing unimaginable power, will lead Diego Polter and his feisty partner Claire on a globe trotting action adventure to rescue Diego’s father and crack the secret of the Lost Pharaohs.”

“The Lost Pharaohs, a fabled pyramid containing unimaginable power, and the only man who knows its location has been kidnapped; now it’s up to his daydreaming son to save him, and the world, from total devastation.”

 “The daydreaming son of a famous explorer must rescue his father from a band of mercenaries bent on unleashing an ancient evil known as the Lost Pharaohs”

The first two are…well bad.  For all the reasons I have already mentioned.  The third holds promise but it could be further stripped to simply this:

“A man must rescue his explorer father before an Egyptian curse is unleashed.”

The reader will know this is an action adventure story.  Maybe kind of Mummy-like with Indy overtones.  It’s set in exotic locations.  And possibly some father/son issues.

Everything else is window dressing.  Lost Pharaohs.  Character names.  The fame of the father and the mindset of the son….all unnecessary.  Empty meaningless words.

If a producer is in the market for this genre of script they will give it a read. Any other questions they have will be answered by the script. (Some companies ask for a summary of story beats after they like the logline.  These are usually lazy or underfunded operations that have few if any readers on staff.)

Now it’s up to the script and your writing to do the talking.  The logline is long forgotten.

You may also want to remember that the MORE you write in the logline the greater chance a judgment of your writing abilities will be made based solely upon the logline.   The first two loglines were pretty bad.  Wordy.  Confusing.  Unprofessional.  I would think the script might be a meandering mess as well.

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7 thoughts on “Loglines: I am NOT an expert and I don’t play one on TV.

  1. Let’s swap LINKS. Enjoyed this very much. My site is at http://www.wheresthedrama.com

    Billy Marshall Stoneking
    writer/producer

  2. Maximum Z says:

    Great post! What are your thoughts about including the antagonist and what’s at stake, which I’ve seen mentioned many other places.

  3. Maximum Z says:

    Great post! I’ve also read that you should include the antagonist and what’s at stake. Your thoughts?

    (this may show up twice – not sure if first attempt went through)

  4. giantELF says:

    Definitely. But with economy. My next post in the subject delves into this a bit. (http://wp.me/pXx7O-ku)

    The original log line in the example above does not mention who/what the antagonist is but is alluded to with the mention his father needs rescue. What’s at stake? An Egyptian curse being unleaded. No need to go beyond that with the effects of the curse, etc. We all dig curses. They ain’t good.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

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