"Loglines: the necessary evil."
Loglines have always been, and will continue to be, the biggest pain in the rear for writers. How can you possibly take your story and squish it down to what would look like a 140-character tweet? What elements need to be covered? How can I test my logline?
Let's get right to it and address those questions!
- How long should my logline be?
- There is no hard and fast rule here, BUT it should be no longer than a 10-second spoken line. Think about it this way: you're in an elevator with a studio exec. You make eye contact, and instead of introducing yourself, you throw out your pitch! <DING> The elevator opens, the exec steps out, but spins and says, "Interesting concept - here's my card." (Ok, maybe that's how I dream of it happening.) But you get the point: it's your story's pitch, so keep it down to one line only (certainly no more than two).
- What elements need to be included?
- Just have a look at this image - it covers the elements in a great visual.
- But I would add another effective element: time. How long does your protagonist have before his world comes to an end and he fails his mission?
- How can I test my logline?
- There are a few ways to do this and it's highly recommended you use all sources as an opportunity to test across different perspectives.
- Screenwriters Anonymous - yes, this site! Email your logline using the link and receive feedback within 24 hours (typically within an hour).
- Logline It - great site! Post your logline and other members will provide comments.
- Starbucks - this applies to any public environment, but I figured we're writers - we live at Starbucks. When you're standing in line or hanging out, just tap a stranger on the shoulder and ask them for a minute of their time. If they look at you strange and turn away, then don't insist - you may end up locked up in county jail. If they're game, then pitch your logline! That's a great way to get instant, honest feedback.
One last piece of advice: before you start typing your script, before you start shaping your outline, before you start drafting character profiles ... WRITE YOUR LOGLINE FIRST! You'll find it helps to focus your storyline instead of shaping your logline to fit your story AFTER you've written it. Do it before and it will help with all proceeding steps ... do it after and you'll be in for the fight of your life.
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