Selling a script for a movie or tv-show is hard work. Studio execs get a ton of scripts sent to them each week, so distinguishing yourself from others can seem near impossible.

That's why loglines entice the reader to read through your entire script.

Read this article to learn how to write the perfect logline.

To learn more about filmmaking, check out our article covering the filmmaking basics.

What is a logline?

A logline is a line of words that sell your movie or tv-show.

It should be short, clear, and powerful. It should be around 25-50 words explaining the protagonist(s), the inciting incident, the protagonist(s) goal/motivation, and the central conflict.

It is challenging to do that in so few words.

Try imagining being a viewer scrolling through a streaming service, and consider what description would motivate them to watch your show.

You have to remember that whoever you send your script to probably gets sent a ton of scripts to read through.

So they'll need a good reason to read yours over the others. And that reason should be because of your incredible logline.

logline examples what is it how to write

3 things that make up an excellent logline

  1. It has to explain the story's premise in a short, concise, and engaging way without revealing the ending.
  2. Try to use active language to make it more vivid and exciting.
  3. The inciting incident that gets the story going should be well-defined.

5 examples of awesome loglines

  1. Apocalypse Now: During the U.S.-Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.
  2. Pulp Fiction: The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
  3. The Dark Knight: When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, Batman must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
  4. Interstellar: A team of explorers travels through a wormhole in space to ensure humanity's survival.
  5. The Silence of the Lambs: A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.
how to write a logline for a film movie guide

How to write a compelling logline in 9 steps

Writing a compelling logline is not an easy task. But there are ways to make your process easier. And remember, writing is truly a process, and rewriting is necessary.

We've made 9 steps to help you write a compelling logline.

1. Write the logline before the script

The first thing you should do is write the logline before you write the script. This not only helps you create a premise for you to work from, but it also means that you'll already have a logline once you're done writing.

Writing the logline first helps you identify what precisely your story is about, who is in it, your protagonist's motivations, and what sets off the story.

Then you can start writing your script, working around the logline you set out.

Of course, you can't be sure that the logline fits the final script 100%, so expect to rewrite it a bit after it is done.

The most important thing is that you have the logline as the core of your story to build everything from; then, you can worry about the finer details afterward.

2. Make it short and catchy

When you're explaining your story, it should be short and sweet.

We know you're a storyteller by heart, and you could stand there for hours explaining the ins and outs of the story's premise.

Still, unfortunately, that doesn't sell a project!

So keep your logline short and catchy, and make sure that, while it is less than 50 words, whoever reads it can't wait to watch it.

3. Create strong protagonists

Make sure to create some strong and interesting protagonists. That's an excellent way to convey some depth to the characters in the logline and get the reader hooked immediately.

So give your protagonist one or two descriptive and exciting adjectives to give an indication of what kind of character is going on the journey.

It will do a world of differences for the reader.

They'll immediately start picturing the character in their head and how this character interacts with the world described.

Dive into the specifics of cinematography.

how to write a great logline script protagonist filmmaking

4. Avoid using character names

Try to avoid using character names in your loglines.

People don't know who your characters are before you describe them, so instead of using character names, use adjectives.

Adjectives can convey a lot of information about a character and give the reader an idea of who they're dealing with.

Now you might think, "didn't you use an example from The Dark Knight where two character names are depicted?"

And while that's true, there are some examples where characters' names can be helpful.

One of those is with an established universe like Batman, where the characters are already well-known.

5. Build it around a goal

Loglines work the best if they are built around a goal. It is not only the protagonist that's important. It's also their motivation.

The goal will explain the story and perhaps even convey some conflicts.

It should be written clearly without revealing too much, but certainly not too little.

For example, if the logline says: "Young woman robs a bank," that can be considered a goal. However, it is bland and doesn't really tell the reader much.

If you say: "Young woman robs a bank to pay for her father's treatment," that provides much more context and depth to the story.

It presents a conflict and a story, and the reader can already begin imagining how it unfolds.

6. Mention the stakes

Don't forget to mention the stakes.

To really reel in the reader, explain what's on the line.

Let's take Interstellar, for example, their logline reads: "A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival."

What's at stake here is the survival of humanity, so pretty important stuff, if I should say so.

This makes the logline go from dull to interesting in just a few words.

We now understand that humanity is at stake, and we can already begin to imagine the conflicts and motivations of the characters. We also understand their immense pressure, and we don't even know any of their names yet!

logline formula how to write examples step by step

7. Don’t shy away from irony

Irony is a great way to sell a concept and is used in loads of loglines and movies.

The contradictory nature of the protagonist is often what makes them interesting.

Let's take Breaking Bad as an example. It starts with: "When Walter White is diagnosed with cancer and given two years to live, the reserved and acquiescent high school chemistry teacher realizes he can use his knowledge (and make tons of money) secretly making methamphetamine."

There's clearly some irony here, as in how the high school teacher who is supposed to lead the younger kids to a better future is forced to create a drug that destroys the future to secure the future of his own family.

Do you see where I am getting at?

Try to find the irony in your story and convey it in the logline. It makes it stick out and shows that you understand what is really interesting and intriguing about this story.

8. Use the logline formula

Using the logline formula is a great way to get an initial logline. Just like the hero's journey helped guide so many stories in our time, the logline formula is excellent at guiding the writer to ensure they remember everything.

The logline formula goes "inciting incident - character - objective - stakes." So you can start by saying: "When [INCITING INCIDENT] happens, [CHARACTER] must [OBJECTIVE] before [STAKES]."

This is a brief example of how a logline could be broken down. Of course, you'd want to rewrite it afterward to m

ake it more unique and intriguing, but this is a great way to ensure you have all the vital elements

logline filmmaking script writing characters story

9. Share the concept, not the whole story

When you're writing a logline, make sure to only share the concept of the story.

You don't want to reveal the ending in the logline. If you give away the ending, the reader is less enticed to read through the many pages of a script you've written!

Leave something for the reader to enjoy when reading through the script.

Up next: Learn how to nail your script

Now that you know how to write a logline, it's time to learn how to write a script.

Read our article on script writing to learn everything you need to know!

What is a logline?

A logline is a line of words that sell your movie or tv-show. It should be short, clear, and powerful.

How to write a logline?

1. Make it short and catchy
2. Create strong protagonists
3. Avoid using character names
4. Build it around a goal
5. Mention the stakes
6. Don’t shy away from irony
7. Use the logline formula: inciting incident - character - objective - stakes
8. Share the concept, not the whole story

What is a good logline?

It has to explain the story's premise in a short, concise, and engaging way without revealing the ending. It uses active language to make it more vivid and interesting. The inciting incident that gets the story going should be well-defined.