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you want to sell your screenplay Chris Conley Jeysey , one of the the most important things you may ever do in your screenwriting career write is a logline, or several of them. Sure, you have to write a great script, but without a compelling logline, nobody will read it.
So what is a logline? It’s a short Mitch Morse Jeysey , usually one sentence, statement of what the story is about. In most cases it should be 25 words or less.
What? Distill your baby, the one you spent months or even years on, into one sentence? Yes, but only if you want to sell your screenplay. Now that I have your grudging attention Chris Jones Jeysey , here’s how to create a logline.
The logline contains three key elements: Who the protagonist is and what they hope to accomplish; who or what stands in their way; what bad thing will happen (the stakes) if they don’t succeed.
Let’s look at each of these logline elements.
The Who. Do not name your protagonist in the logline, instead tell us what kind of person they are, which often means employing an adjective or other descriptor. For example: A young girl, a young boy, an alcoholic ambulance chasing lawyer Travis Kelce Jeysey , a cynical police detective and so on.
The What. Protect a home, protect a family, win someone’s heart, get a job, find the murderer.
The Antagonist and the Stakes. Serial Killer Justin Houston Jeysey , thief, a domineering boss, a rival crime family, Forces of Nature.
Also, the logline should be about the protagonist and something they are seeking to achieve Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Jeysey , not something that is happening TO them. Even if your protagonist is a passive victim during the first part of the story, they must eventually become an active participant in their life or nobody will be interested in the story.
Many great stories have compelling backdrops that contribute to the conflict of the story, such as a war, a ghetto, a high powered law firm Kareem Hunt Jeysey , the Old West. If you can, include the backdrop of your logline to make it richer and more intriguing.
With all of the above components in mind, let’s construct some possible loglines for popular movies.
Two young lovers associated with rival gang factions in the slums try to escape the hatred and violence that surrounds them to find a better life – “West Side Story” (based on “Romeo and Juliet”).
A naive young woman wants to travel the world and find true love before her evil stepmother captures and re-imprisons her – “Tangled”
A land lubber lawman must kill a giant shark to protect his family and seaside resort town – “Jaws.”
A small boy who was accidentally left alone tries to prevent robbers from breaking into his house during Christmas – “Home Alone.”
You might be able to come up with variations of the above loglines. There are no right and wrong loglines – only those that help sell your screenplay and those that don’t.
Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter of an award-winning feature film. He has two movies in development and three more of his scripts have been optioned. Check out his his screenwriting site for more article on screenwriting. You can also request his Free Ebook screenwriting for authors
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