|So you've written a really great script. How are you going to get people to read it? That’s where your log line comes in. For the uninitiated, a log line is a one- or two-sentence description of your story. It’s arguably the single biggest selling tool a writer uses. How do you create a killer log line, one guaranteed to grab someone’s interest? It’s really a very simple formula:|
Lead with your title. A good title is a selling point unto itself, but you’d be surprised how many pitches I’ve heard or query letters I’ve seen over the years in which the writer forgets to mention the title. Always start with your title.
Indicate the genre. This helps orient the reader/listener to what he or she is about to read or hear. If you say, “It’s a comedy about ...” then the person you’re telling it to is more likely to think your idea is funny or at least has the potential to be. If your script is based on a true story or another source (book, comic book, play), this is where you mention that as well.Introduce your protagonist and your protagonist’s situation. Besides the question “What’s it about?” a good log line also answers a few secondary questions, while giving an accurate, succinct overview of your story.
The first of those secondary questions is: Who is it about? Here’s where you introduce your main character (or protagonist) in a general but cool way. Don’t give the person’s name, just describe who this person is, e.g., A tortured billionaire (The Dark Knight).You can add something about your protagonist’s situation at the beginning of your story. This helps to give an overview of both the story arc and the protagonist’s character arc, i.e., the physical and emotional journey through which the events of the story will take the character: A tortured billionaire, using his resources and fighting skills to secretly battle crime in his beloved city ...
Describe the central conflict. The next step is to describe your central conflict and, usually, mention your primary antagonist or antagonistic force. This really is your answer to “What’s it about?” or, more precisely, “What happens to your protagonist?”It’s the centerpiece of your log line and needs to relay the basic plot of your story as entertainingly and concisely as possible. This is also where you can introduce key supporting characters if they’re central to the main plot: The Dark Knight—A noir fantasy based on the classic Batman comic books about a tortured billionaire who uses his resources and fighting skills to secretly battle crime in his beloved city and who tries to save the woman he loves and a crusading district attorney from a deformed, amoral, chaos-loving maniac.
Sketch in the protagonist’s arc. This answers the final secondary question, which is something along the lines of “What does your protagonist learn?” or “How does your protagonist change?” Adding a bit of detail about the protagonist’s character arc gives your log line a crucial emotional element, allowing your reader/listener to really connect with the story you’re trying to tell. Notice how the arc is integrated into the log line (underlined): The Dark Knight—A noir fantasy based on the classic Batman comic book series, about a tortured billionaire who uses his resources and fighting skills to secretly battle crime in his beloved city and who struggles with his sense of justice and purpose while trying to save the woman he loves and a crusading district attorney from a deformed, amoral, chaos-loving maniac.That’s it. This five-step formula will help you craft solid, enticing log lines that will be the key marketing tools for your scripts.