One way to think about your logline is that it’s a quick pitch. If someone asks you what your screenplay is about and you only have moments to tell them, you should give them your logline. You don’t have time to share an entire synopsis or get into details, so your goal is to pique their interest quickly with the full idea of the project.
Elements of a Great Logline
- 1-2 sentences long.
- More about the idea of the screenplay than the plot events.
- Includes the Protagonist, the Goal, Adventure and inherent conflict.
- Conveys genre and tone (a horror logline should be scary while an comedy logline should be funny).
- Uses character roles instead of names (“a snobby psychologist”, instead of “Frasier”)
- Includes the Opponent
- Includes the stakes
- Includes the Influencing Character
- Implies Theme [tutorial hyperlink]
- Implies Character Arc [tutorial hyperlink].
- Includes Setting and Time period
- Teases the third act but doesn’t reveal the ending.
It might seem impossible to cram all of this into a single sentence or two, but let’s look at the logline for Blade Runner as an example:
Blade Runner Logline – In Los Angeles 2019, a jaded detective must hunt down and terminate murderous human-looking androids who are searching for their maker to extend their lifespans, but falls in love with another android in the process.
Let’s break this down:
- Here, the Protagonist is introduced by his occupation, “detective.”
- His Character Flaw and thus the implication of his Character Arc is set up with the word “jaded.”
- ”Los Angeles 2019” establishes the setting.
- The Opponents are “murderous human-looking androids.”
- ”must hunt down and terminate” states the Goal, Adventure, and one aspect of the conflict.
- “falls in love with another android” indicates further conflict as well as the Influencing Character.
As you can see, many elements of the story are related in a single sentence but the logline focuses on the entire story idea rather than details or various plot points.