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What is a Logline in Screenwriting?

Before any screenplay ever makes its way to the big screen, it’s got to stand out in front of the Producers that read it. But, producers are faced with so many spec scripts from screenwriters that are hoping to make it big, that they rarely read an entire script — unless it stands out and catches their attention with the logline. The use of a logline in screenwriting is incredibly important, but it’s also one of the elements many screenwriters struggle most with. But, what is a logline in screenwriting and what is the purpose?

What is a Logline in Screenwriting?

A logline represents your one or two minute elevator pitch that will either cause a producer to actually flip the page and read into your script — or not. Summarizing a movie with a logline is all about the elevator pitch. This is your quick, no frills opportunity to share what your screenplay is about.

Loglines hook the reader and draw their attention to the central conflict of your story. In the simplest manner, a logline offers a concise, short, attention grabbing note that basically sells the script. Your logline acts as a clear and concise teaser to your film.

Elements of a Logline

If it’s just two sentences, why is it so difficult? The logline is challenging for screenwriters mainly because of the pressure to succeed. A well written logline has the capacity to draw the attention of the producer, keep them around, and encourage them to read the rest of the script.

A great logline is made up of the following:

  • The protagonist
  • The inciting incident of the story
  • The protagonist’s goal in the story
  • The central conflict

The idea behind the logline is that it should read as a short, 30 word or less example of what your film will give to the audience. WHY should the producer read your script?

How Long is the Logline?

The standard logline is in the format of {protagonist} + {Inciting incident} + {protagonist’s goal} + {central conflict} although it doesn’t have to follow that exact order, it should always include all of the elements listed.

A standard film logline should not be more than 30 words in total length. Most loglines are best achieved with a single sentence, although a second sentence is acceptable within the confines of the word count.

The more intricate your film is, the longer your logline may be but it should remain a very short description that is heavily focused on the points of the film.

In Summation

So, what is a logline in screenwriting? It’s a short review of the key elements of the film that will pique the reader’s interest and draw attention to your script such that a Producer or representative would feel compelled to read the rest of the script.

Unlike a tagline which is more of a witty couple word slogan about your film, the logline should provide a descriptive illustration of your script and what makes it so special.

Need more examples of loglines? The Script Lab does a tremendous job of explaining further.