So you’re talking about your screenplay idea with your screenwriting friends and one of them asks, “So what's the logline?” and you find yourself tripping over your words? If you’ve been struggling with loglines then this article is for you! In this article, we are breaking down loglines, their purpose, and how you can ensure your script has an effective one.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A LOGLINE?
Before we begin to break down loglines, we must first understand the purpose of a logline. Simply put, a logline is a brief synopsis of what your screenplay is about. Some writers even come up with loglines in the idea-generation process to help solidify what their screenplay is about. A logline should be brief, concise, and to the point but also showcase the essence of the story. Now that we’ve covered the purpose of a logline, let’s dive into three elements that every logline should have.
3 ELEMENTS EVERY LOGLINE SHOULD HAVE
1. A protagonist. Every logline should include who the story is about, the protagonist. Consider adding social proof to the character so that they become more dynamic. To learn more about social proof check out our Youtube video!
So if your protagonist is a janitor instead of just naming them as the janitor in your logline, consider using adjectives to describe who they are in the world. For example, are they a down-on-their-luck janitor? Optimistic? Wise? Adding social proof to the protagonist in the logline makes the protagonist three-dimensional and gives greater scope to who they are as a character.
2. A clear goal. Now that we know who the protagonist is, we next have to know what their goal is. What do we see them trying to achieve in the screenplay? Using our janitor examples, we can begin to form the sample logline below:
A former criminal turned sheisty janitor (protagonist) must use his former skills to rescue his daughter from kidnappers (goal)…
In this example, the janitor's goal is clear: to rescue his daughter. Because we know that the janitor is wise (social proof) this supports him being able to use his skills as a janitor to be able to find his daughter.
3. What are the stakes? Every logline needs stakes. This lets the reader know why the goal is so important to the protagonist. It also gives the goal a sense of urgency. Now, let’s revisit our sample logline and add in stakes.
A former criminal turned sheisty janitor (protagonist) must use his former skills to rescue his daughter from kidnappers (goal) or risk losing not only his daughter, but his livelihood (stakes).
If the janitor does not rescue his daughter, he will lose both her and his business. Although there is a bit yet to be discovered, we have the basic information about what the story is about.
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