Back in the day, loglines were simply a brief summary television loggers wrote for TV guides. They were crude, short and variable.
Today, loglines are marketing tools to generate producer interest in your script. It’s a functionary tool which distills the emotional core of your story into one or two sentences. L.A.-based career consultant Jen Grisanti delves further into the truly complex functions of a log line.
Your logline is the road map of your story. The blueprint if you will. The story spine. It’s the first impression a producer will get of you, so make it work. If your logline is weak, the chances are, so will your script. That’s producer logic.
Jen continues “A logline is a brief description of the plot of your story, which involves an emotional hook and a twist of irony. A logline organizes a story in the briefest form possible while retaining the strongest emotional effect.” Write this before beginning your script. You must plan your journey before you travel.
Your logline should contain FIVE distinct parts:
- Setup (define and create empathy for your main characters)
- Dilemma (a problem with at least two solutions; the main character must choose))
- Action (how the main character pursues their goal)
- Goal (desire – where is the story going)
- A twist of irony (character begins with one intention and ends with another; inner growth)
Consider the logline for “The Social Network”:
“When a socially inept and financially challenged Harvard student’s girlfriend dumps him, he creates an idea to rate the attractiveness of female Harvard undergrads as a way to mend his loss–and his idea becomes a global social sensation that makes him the youngest billionaire in history.”
Notice the irony; the socially inept boffin creates a global social network spanning almost 200 countries. Zuckerberg does win his girlfriend back, but learns more about social interaction and relationships than he ever imagined. How’s that for an inner journey of personal growth.
Constructing a good log line will help isolate weakness in your script. Jen writes “the logline will tell you if you empathize with your lead, if your dilemma is powerful enough, if your central character is active in his pursuit and if his goal is strong enough. The logline will highlight the emotional stakes of your story. What’s the worst that can happen if your hero doesn’t achieve his or her goal?”