What is a One Liner

Written By:

What is a One Liner?

Some Producers will listen to long, drawn out script or story pitches and others might ask for a one-liner. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker or scriptwriter that’s interested in pitching your story and a producer tells you to send a one liner, are you going to jump up and down with joy or will you bury your head in your hands as you think to yourself, “what is a one liner?” And more importantly, how can you possibly boil your entire script pitch down to a single line?

The one-liner is sometimes more understandably referred to as the logline of the film, and while it can be incredibly informative, it’s also equally — short. If you’re wondering what a one liner is and how you can learn how to pitch your stories without breaking the rules, it’s important to learn exactly what goes into a logline.

What is a One Liner?

You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “logline” more frequently than the term one-liner? In fact, the term “one liner” is definitely not used as frequently to address this particular means of writing, anyway. 

Either way, a one liner, or a logline, is essentially the elevator pitch of your story. Think of it this way: the logline is basically a one to two sentence caption that explains your film, screenplay, or short story. 

Loglines have a maximum of 30 words and describe the plot of your film generally in just a single sentence, but two short sentences would also be acceptable.

It’s Not as Simple As You Might Think!

Chances are you’re in one of two thought groups when it comes to writing one liners:

  1. Thought Group A – believes that writing two sentences or less is super easy and requires barely even a second thought.
  2. Thought Group B – believes that mastering the art of delivering the perfect elevator pitch in two sentences or less is just that — an art – that few can truly achieve.

The truth is, there’s a big difference between knowing what a one liner is, and being able to write one that will sell your film to the desired audience!

Writing your one liner, pitch, or logline is how you can define the concept of your idea of a film to an outside audience. If you cannot write a logline, then your idea is unclear – and that right there is a big problem!

What Goes into a One Liner?

Perhaps you’re thinking, I don’t need a “script” to help me write a one liner — it’s literally one or two sentences, what could possibly go wrong? But, if you’re not careful, your one liner will likely miss key elements and in doing so, you’re less likely to actually “sell” your pitch.

Your one liners should include the following:

  • The hero of your story.
  • The objective of your story.
  • The antagonist of your story.

Seems easy enough, right? Okay, consider also that your logline or one liner should (in one or two sentences, 30 words or less) provide the:

  • What
  • When
  • How
  • Why

Of your story. According to some, the best one liners will include a world, a character, and a goal. Learning how to write a one liner will help you to break past the noise and get your story heard!

Memorable one liners really make films. Check out these famous one liners in this Burger Fiction video and count how many you've heard!