In my experience, writing screenplays and loglines is a lot like algebra and geometry: people typically excel at one while struggling with the other. Penning a screenplay is hard enough, but writing loglines can be difficult, because you have to strip your story down to its most essential parts, while still telling it in its entirety -- you're not given the luxury of playing the long game. If you're like me and struggle with writing up loglines, this Script Lab video explains in simple terms just how to do it.
It might sound strange, but for some of us, loglines are more difficult to write than the actual screenplay, which is unfortunate, because having a clear, concise, and interesting logline can mean the difference between getting your script read and getting it tossed in the trash. Readers have to comb through so many scripts per day, so giving every single one a chance to grow on them over several pages just isn't in the cards.
Loglines not only give readers a chance to sift through stories that don't seem interesting, but they also give screenwriters a chance to solidify the foundation of their story. It's often said that if you can't sum up your narrative in a logline, which is typically 1 to 2 sentences long (or 20 to 30 words), you need to start reeling things in and solidifying and simplifying the essentials of your script.
Speaking of solid, simple essentials, this video from The Script Lab explains how to write loglines in such a way. Seriously, how many times have you tried to learn about how to write a logline and walked away still not knowing how to write a logline? It's frustrating! But this video isn't.
So, now that you know the basic structure of a logline (the character, the goal, the obstacle), it'd probably be a good idea to make sure you know how to rack up points for style, too. Raindance Film Festival shared a post on its blog about how to do just that. They share 10 tips, but I'll just quickly share a few of them to get the ball rolling. (Be sure to check out the full article here.)
- Instead of using character names, use terms that describe your characters. (e.g. instead of "V", say "a blog editor")
- Use an adjective to give depth to your character. (e.g. "A very short blog editor")
- Present the main goal quickly and clearly. (e.g. "A very short blog editor who wants to be drafted into the WNBA")
It might actually make the process easier to complete if you go step by step like this, so I really, really suggest giving that Raindance post a thorough read. And in the end, it's all about practice. If you can summarize your story in a clear, pithy summary right out of the gate, then -- please tell me how you do that. But if you're like me and have a little trouble, these tips will certainly help you put the pieces together.
[via Filmmaker IQ]