You could spend hundreds of hours writing a script and then when you get to the end, not know what it’s about. Or if it stayed about what you meant it to be. Or if it’s marketable. Shouldn’t you know those things from beginning to end?
Creating a Writing Roadmap For Your Script
The point is that there is so much work, so many words, and millions of decisions between the beginning and the end of a script that you need guideposts, milestones and help. One of the most effective guideposts is a logline. The logline is almost like hammer with the versatility, flexibility and brute strength.
What is a logline?
A logline is the 1 sentence long distillation of your movie. There are several ways to come at this:
1. My story is a (genre) called (title) about (hero) who wants (goal) despite (obstacle).” (Stephanie Palmer, www.goodinaroom.com)
2. When your main character is acted upon, and something happens, he or she is forced to do__________, in order to achieve ________and prevent _____________. (Marilyn Horowitz, www.marilynhorowitz.com/)
3. [TITLE] is a [GENRE] about when [INCITING INCIDENT HAPPENS TO], a [PROTAGONIST] must [WANT TO ACHIEVE AN OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES WILL OCCUR]. Noam Kroll (www.noamkroll.com/)
See how useful this is? There are many variations to writing loglines, so you don’t have to use the exact format, however this serves as a guide.
When you put in the work on your logline prior to writing a script, it will help you stay on course. It has this almost GPS-like quality, to keep you on the track. If you complete a page in your script and, after reading the logline, that page doesn’t belong with your logline, you may ask yourself if you’re still grounded in writing the original project that you started with.
Loglines don’t have the same detail as outlines do, however they can serve as your north star:
- Set you up for success before you write your screenplay
- Saves time and effort
- Builds a foundation for your script
More details about creating a good logline
- A Logline highlights the dramatic essence of the story (so it should have drama)
- The logline should spur the reader to want to read the entire script
- A logline isn’t a tagline, which is the little extension on a movie poster
Now for some homework – go find a few examples until you find one you like! Resources are IMDB, the listing of the movie in Amazon, or online where a movie is available to rent or buy.