How to Write Loglines

There is an art in Hollywood of writing a slightly teasing, but not spolier-y 1-2 sentence summary of a movie known as a “logline” (around 30-60 words). We are stealing that art for short stories, but we do not have to be as clever since we are not “pitching” studios.

Some tips on loglines.

  • They can be one or two sentences. Some people try, in movie land, to be clever and pack things into one.
  • You don’t need names for the logline. Generally refer to people by their demographic. So “a teenage girl”, “an elderly Southern black man.”
  • Don’t be afraid to give a slight reveal, either explicit or implicit “tragic “murder-suicide.” or “twist of fate”, but don't give away the ending
  • Try to give the general setting, especially since scifi/fantasy is not set in the normal world. “In the near future”, “in an alternative reality”, “in a far dystopian future.”

Examples of loglines

For Star Wars

"A farm boy who dreams of greatness as a pilot intercepts a distress signal from a rebel princess and goes on a quest to rescue her alongside a space pirate and an old knight to ultimately save the galaxy from the forces of evil."

Feel free to list 2 or 3 loglines and leave it to us to pick one or reshape. They don’t have to be super polished. We’d rather have functional rather than shiny at this point. We will have someone go through later and polish them en masse in editing rounds.

  • I like the Sundance loglines best, they tend to be more meaty. Scan down the press release to read them:

  • https://www.sundance.org/blogs/news/2020-sundance-directors-screenwriters-lab

  • Here are some famous movies reduced to loglines. They are fun to read, but we don’t have to be this trenchant. These are being clever for cleverness sake.

  • https://screencraft.org/2019/07/29/101-best-movie-loglines-screenwriters-can-learn-from/

  • More examples from StudioBinder:

  • https://www.dropbox.com/s/rumhtad8tbkmg1v/How-to-Write-a-Compelling-Logline-StudioBinder.pdf?dl=0

  • Masterclass:

  • https://www.masterclass.com/articles/screenwriting-tips-how-to-write-a-logline#want-to-become-a-better-screenwriter

Next, learn how to write Coverage.