The Helpful Reviewer

Writing a Good Logline

Monday, June 1, 2020

If you want to hook someone into wanting to learn more about your script, you need a killer logline. A logline is one or two sentences describing the central conflict of your story in a simple way that immediately engages someone.

It’s imperative that every logline includes the protagonist, the inciting incident, the goal, the conflict, and if possible, the world of the story.

When talking about the protagonist, it’s important to include one or two adjectives to describe what type of person he is, so that we can create a mental picture of who is leading the story.

The protagonist also needs to have a strong goal. Well-crafted characters have wants, needs, and flaws, and need to arc by the end of the script. Their goal should correlate with all of that.

The inciting incident disrupts the world of the protagonist, and he needs to make a decision regarding that. That’s also when his goal and the stakes come into play.

Ideally, all of these things are reflected in the script’s logline. And yes, it’s as hard as the description makes it sound. Crafting a good logline is an art form. It’s not easy at all. And it shouldn’t be—after all, it’s one sentence showing multiple parts of a hopefully complicated, intriguing, and unique script. Summarizing it in one sentence is no small feat. But when the script has a clear protagonist, goal, inciting incident, world, and antagonist, then writing the logline becomes a lot more doable.

One last thing to remember is to always write in active voice, just like you do when writing a script. Never use past tense.

There are several logline generators or prompts out there, but one of the most common ones shows that a good template to start crafting your logline should be something like:

"When (inciting incident) happens, (the protagonist) decides to (do something active) against (antagonist)."

Some good examples from famous movies would be:

"When two star-crossed lovers meet in the Titanic, they fight to make their love work as the ship sinks in the ocean." (Titanic)

"When the new young queen inadvertently freezes her kingdom, she must learn to control her powers and rekindle her relationship with her sister in order to stop the evils threatening to destroy her kingdom." (Frozen)


Cody Smart

Cody Smart

Reviewer

Cody is an independent writer and script doctor from Santiago, Chile. She attended the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she double majored in English Literature and Linguistics, with a minor in Dramatic Literature. She moved to L.A. and got her MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, Universal Studios location, while at the same time working at Sony Pictures as a reader and story analyst. She also received two Certificates from UCLA, in Development and Producing for Film and TV.

Aside from her years of experience as a studio reader, she’s a judge for multiple script and film competitions, has written some award-winning short films and feature film scripts, she’s been working as a script analyst and doctor for years helping writers take their scripts to the next level, and is currently the head of the coverage department at Story Data.