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How and Why to Write a Good Logline

By on November 30, 2017 in Tips and Tactics, Tools with 271 Comments

Loglines. They strike fear in the hearts of writers. If you’ve tried to write them, you know: sometimes it feels nearly impossible to distill an entire movie into one pithy sentence.

Yet you keep at it. Because one great sentence can pitch your project, hook a reader, and open the right door.

Why Do We Write Loglines?

As Blake Snyder writes in Save the Cat!®:

“What is it?” is the movie. A good “What is it?” is the coin of the realm. Everyone, all across town, in a position to buy or in the effort to sell, is trying to wrap their brains around the same question your friends were asking on Saturday night: “What is it?”

A good logline tells enough to convey a solid sense of the movie, but is succinct enough that the listener doesn’t get bored or confused. It answers the “what is it” question, clearly and enticingly.

But loglines aren’t only for pitching your finished screenplay. Working out your story idea in one sentence is also a valuable part of the development process. That’s why, in the online Save the Cat!® Beat Sheet Workshops (shameless plug), we hit the ground running in Week 1 by working on loglines for the ideas that students are thinking about writing.

Playing around with loglines is a quick and easy way to begin to make choices about your story, to test different versions, and to see if there’s a movie there. To answer “What is it?” for yourself.

What’s in a Logline?

The essentials of a logline are simply the fundamental elements of your story:

Someone (the protagonist) wants something (the story goal) and goes after it against great odds and/or obstacles (the antagonist and the conflict).

But even though the components of a logline are straightforward, writing a good one is surprisingly difficult.

(And now I’ll stop reminding you how hard it is and let you in on a few logline-writing tips.)

Here are three of the most common stumbles I see with loglines, and my advice on how you can avoid them:

1. Stopping at the Set-Up

Above I pointed out the essential elements of a logline as: “Someone (the protagonist) wants something (the story goal) and goes after it against great odds and/or obstacles (the antagonist and the conflict).”

The “goes after it against great odds” portion is vital to a good logline, and the most often overlooked.

What does “goes after it against great odds” give us? Act 2.

Act 2 is where we show off the Fun and Games of this particular story, a.k.a. the promise of the premise. It’s the main action. The adventure. The meat of the movie.

If you’re describing a sandwich, you don’t stop after what kind of bread it’s on, right? So if you’re describing a movie, give us an idea of what we’re going to bite into.

Often writers think a logline is more enticing if it’s mysterious – and that can be the case. But a logline’s function is to give us a true sense of the movie. It doesn’t have to give away the ending, but it also shouldn’t stop after the Set-Up. We should have an idea what we’ll be watching on screen for the bulk of our time in the theater.

Get Out isn’t about Chris getting to Rose’s family’s house. It’s about what happens once he’s there – figuring out what’s really going on, and trying to get away intact. Trying to get out.

Hell or High Water isn’t just about the brothers’ plan to rob those banks. It’s about them trying to keep it together long enough to execute that plan, before they’re caught by the lawmen on their tail – to get the stolen money to their bank before the foreclosure deadline, come hell or high water.

Although it is necessary in a logline to include the Set-Up for context, don’t stop there. Remember to include a description of what’s happening in Act 2. That’s what tells us what kind of movie we’re buying.

And for you, the writer developing the story, it helps you to gauge whether you know what kind of movie you’re writing.

2. No Act 2

“Wait,” you’re saying. “Isn’t this the same as #1?” Though there may be some overlap, they’re worth looking at separately because this is a sneaky pitfall all its own, which can easily happen to anyone.

Leaving out a description of Act 2 is a different thing than not having an Act 2 at all. Thinking you have an Act 2 when you don’t is what we’re talking about here.

If Act 2 is all about pursuing the story goal, then that goal must be something that’s difficult to achieve in order for the pursuit of it to sustain an entire screenplay. Forces of antagonism and other obstacles get in the way, but the goal itself should have an intrinsic degree of difficulty relative to the circumstances of your story.

Goals that can be achieved very quickly or easily are not going to be enough to write 100 pages about. And this is the problem we see in some loglines.

Loglines that hinge on a main action of “decide,” or “choose,” or “realize,” or (sometimes) “discover,” just might have a “No Act 2” problem. Not always, but often enough to double-check your work.

These are things that sound dramatic in a logline, but when you think about what they really mean – what they really look like on screen – you can see that they don’t bring much story stuff to the table.

A decision takes a second to make. Could coming to a very difficult decision be drawn out over a movie? Sure. But that’s something you’ll want to identify and begin to plan for early on, so you can find ways to dramatize it – and justify why the character isn’t just flipping a coin so we can all go home.

So keep an eye on your logline for those sneaky phrases that seem more dramatic than they are. If the goal is something that can be done in a moment, you — the writer — may find yourself running out of scenes to write.

3. Detail Overload

At the other end of the spectrum is our final common logline stumble: including too many story details.

It’s an understandable instinct. You want to put ALL your movie’s cool stuff in, and for good reason. You love the details of your story, and you’re sure other people will too. Why wouldn’t you include every last one in the logline?

When it comes to loglines, brevity and clarity are your friends. A logline’s first priority is to present the essential core of the story. Loglines can often support a few additional details, but not many. More than either of the first two things I’ve pointed out, this is the primary challenge when writing your logline.

Because the truth is, when you’re still developing a story it’s often not completely solid in your mind – and that can make it tough to identify the essential core. And when you’ve written an entire screenplay, you know everything about your story – again making it tough to narrow in on the core amidst all the cool details.

But aiming for clarity and brevity will serve you well. When you’re developing an idea, writing a clear, straightforward logline can help you gain that solid grasp of the story that you need in order to flesh it out. And when you’re pitching, a logline that’s too full of non-essential details hints at a writer who may not have a good grasp on his or her own story, when we always want to feel like the storyteller is in command of the story.

So how do you tackle a too-detailed logline? Identify the essentials:

Someone (the protagonist) wants something (the story goal) and goes after it against great odds and/or obstacles (the antagonist and the conflict).

Make it clear first… and pretty later.

My Logline Challenge to You!

If you’re working on a logline for your screenplay – whether to help with your own development, or because you’re ready to pitch – remember the essentials. Identify the core of the story and describe it in one sentence.

Just as those elements should be clear in your screenplay, so should they be clear in your logline. A logline, after all, is a representation of your screenplay and your movie.

In keeping with Blake’s enthusiasm for helping writers and celebrating story, I’d like to bring back his invitation from a 2006 blog post about loglines:

And if you feel like it, please use the Comment section below to pitch your best logline and let others tell you if they agree or not.

I’ll do my best to comment on each logline that’s posted, and I’d love to hear what you think about each others’ loglines as well.

Who’s game?

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Naomi Beaty

About the Author

About the Author: Naomi Beaty, a screenwriter and script reader in Los Angeles, teaches our online beat sheet screenwriting workshops, our in-person weekend intensive workshops, and hosts our STC! podcasts. Visit her online home and get access to the new library of downloadable screenplays and screenwriting resources. .

There Are 271 Comments

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  1. Mike Pedley says:

    After waking up, deceased with no memory, in the local morgue, a high-flying college graduate must remember his life and death and come to terms with it before his funeral to have a chance of a do-over.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Mike! This is a great idea and I think you’re conveying it well in the logline. I know who your main character is (high-flying college grad), I know what his problem is (wakes up, deceased / no memory), and what he must do to solve it (remember his life and death before his funeral).

      So, a couple of thoughts that might help you tighten up and/or clarify even more:

      – I wonder if “college grad” is the best way to describe the character. Is there a more specific way to describe him, which would convey something useful about the character right away? Is he a recent college grad? Does that have something specific to do with the concept? Meaning, is that phase of life that he’s in — does that contribute to the plot, or make this story more meaningful in some way?

      – What does it mean that he has to “remember his life and death and come to terms with it”? Does he have to find out who he was by following certain clues? Getting the help of a memory specialist? Does he have to sit and think until his memories come back? And the “come to terms with it” — does that mean he has to forgive someone? Forgive himself? Make something right? In trying to imagine what we’re actually watching on screen, getting a little more specific with this part of the description would help too.

      Hope that’s useful to you! As I said before — it’s a great idea! I look forward to seeing your progress with it.

    • Wally I. says:

      After the outbreak of a catastrophic virus, in a theme park full of aliens ; A alienphohic scientist must team up with an alien and journey through the vast park to learn it’s secrets : while being pursued by a militant government agent.

  2. Liz says:

    An uptight, obsessive-compulsive real estate developer gunning for a promotion at her company faces foreign challenges when she is sent to southern Croatia to build a resort.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Liz! From your logline, I get an immediate sense of your main character and of the fish-out-of-water element, so great job there.

      Main character: uptight real estate developer
      Goal: promotion
      Action: build a resort in southern Croatia
      Opposition/Conflict: cultural differences (?)

      I think I see the movie — sort of a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with real estate and Croatia instead of war and Afghanistan? As noted above, I *think* the conflict is implied in the fish-out-of-water element, but if the protag goes up against more direct opposition it would be worth trying to include that in the logline too.

      Even without more direct opposition, I think it could be worth expanding on what she’s up against while in Croatia — meaning, characterize the primary source of conflict so we have an idea of what arena we’re playing in (gender issues, ignorant American issues, something else entirely?)

      (Also, if I’ve guessed the movie all wrong, then let me know what it’s really about and I’ll try to suggest a revised logline to reflect the events in your story.)

      Hope that helps!

      • Liz says:

        Thanks for the feedback, Naomi! Yes, you are correct in what the movie is about, although I haven’t seen Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (I will add it to my list!). I’ll tweak the logline with more detail as you advised. Thanks again for taking the time!

        Liz

  3. Wally I. says:

    After the outbreak of a catastrophic virus, in a theme park full of aliens ; A alienphohic scientist must team up with an alien and journey through the vast park to learn it’s secrets : while being pursued by a militant government agent.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Wally! This sounds like an exciting story! I think you have the right details here, but you might be able to clarify just a bit so that all the appeal of the story is coming through.

      Protagonist: alienphobic scientist
      Antagonist: militant government agent (who is pursuing him)
      Goal: what I see in the logline is “journey through the vast park to learn it’s secrets” but I’m not totally sure what that means as far as an end point. What does success look like on screen? When the scientist reaches the other side of the park? When the scientist knows a secret? Etc.

      I suspect the real goal is to stop the spread of the catastrophic virus, so if that’s true then maybe the logline could be something like:

      When a catastrophic virus breaks out in a theme park full of aliens, an alienphobic scientist must team up with an alien guide to journey through the vast park to the source of the outbreak — the scientist’s only chance of stopping the virus and saving them all — all while being pursued by a militant government agent on a suicide mission to destroy the alien race.

      You’ll want to change out the details that are accurate to your story, of course, but hopefully that shows how you can get more specific with the goal and also indicate what’s at stake and the nature of the antagonistic force.

      You might also clarify just a few of those colorful details just to make sure what you have in mind is coming through clearly. For instance, when the logline says “in a theme park full of aliens,” I’m not sure if the theme park is *alien themed*, or if it’s a theme park that *aliens visit*.

      Hope that helps!

  4. John says:

    Three particle physicist are transported back in time after a catastrophic particle accelerator incident at CERN in Switzerland . The transported physicists fight to return to the present day after discovering the incident was not accident and that there were sinister motives behind it.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi John,

      Great concept here! What I’m getting from the logline is mostly your compelling setup, and where you could expand a bit is in filling us in on the appeal of the main thrust of the movie, i.e. Act 2.

      So, for example, where do they land — both time and place? It seems like a big part of the movie action will take place there, so giving us a sense of what that looks like would help. And I see that the transported physicists must “fight to return to the present day”, but what does that mean? The time/place will help fill that in somewhat, but if you can help us see what kinds of things they’re going to have to do, and perhaps what arenas they’ll be moving around in, we’ll get a real sense of the movie we’ll be watching.

      Hope that helps!

      Naomi

  5. John says:

    Thanks Naomi..! Taking your advice…here is version 2…

    Three physicists are each hurled back in time to separate decades, the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, after a catastrophic accident at the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland. To help them get back to the present they must alter their identity’s and recruit the younger version of themselves to open a time portal but not before exposing a sinister plot behind their original experiment.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey John! I think the new version is great! If I could make one tweak, I think I might just switch around part of the setup so it’s easier to read. Something like:

      “After a catastrophic accident at the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland, three physicists are hurled back in time, each to separate decades — the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. To help them get back to the present they must alter their identities and recruit the younger version of themselves to open a time portal, but not before exposing a sinister plot behind their original experiment.”

      Nice work!!

  6. John says:

    Perfecto! Thanks Naomi much appreciated!

    John

  7. Helen says:

    Desperate to write a good story, writer suddenly gets inspired by his new neighbor. Risking to loose his roof he rescues his new muse from eviction.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks so much for submitting your logline! I can see some of the essential elements you’re including, and there are a couple of others that may need a little clarification to help the concept come through clearly. What I can tell so far:

      Protagonist: Writer
      Goal: Stop his neighbor’s eviction (so he can keep the inspiration that will help him write a good story)
      Opposition: His muse is being evicted
      Stakes: Writer’s ability to write a good story

      It might be helpful to get more specific with the opposition, since there are a number of reasons someone could be evicted and the specific reason you choose for this story may have some bearing on the kinds of things we see on screen.

      The other thing I’d point out, is that right now the stakes feel pretty low. Stakes like this can certainly work (we’ve seen it in other movies) but what will really help will be showing us what it *means* to the protagonist to possibly lose his ability to write. If there’s some greater emotional loss that will occur, that will give the story a feeling of bigger stakes and more urgency. If you can make it feel like a life-or-death situation (even a metaphorical one), we’ll be much more engaged and invested in the outcome.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Solren says:

    When a feminist serial killer falls in love for the first time he will have to choose whether to fight his demons or loose everything he has ever wanted

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Solren!

      I’m so curious what you mean by “feminist serial killer”! Is that a serial killer who exclusively kills misogynists? Or a serial killer who believes women can and should kill just as well as men? It’s an intriguing story area.

      So, from your logline I can tell who your main character is (the feminist serial killer). And I think you’ve set up an interesting dilemma for that character, but I’m not quite sure what we’ll be watching onscreen for the duration of the movie.

      Is it a romance, i.e. we’ll watch him court his new love interest, struggling with his own personal demons along the way? Or is it more of a psychological thriller, where we’re watching a serial killer attempt to go about his killing, which conflicts with his newly discovered humanity (through falling in love)? If you can get more specific about what the story goal is, that will help a lot. And then giving us a sense of where the story events go after that set up will help us see the movie in our minds.

      Hope that helps!

  9. Nupur says:

    Thanks for this wonderful article, Naomi. I’d always wondered about whether to include Act II or not.

    Here’s my attempt at a logline for a story entitled” Framed”: While struggling to prove her own innocence in a murder case, a reluctant psychic stumbles upon a clue to the greatest art heist of all time.

    I’m not sure whether to specify that the art heist and the murder are related or whether it stands to reason that they will be.

    Also, should I be explaining why the protagonist has always been reluctant to use her powers?

    And does “greatest art heist” seem too over-the-top? Should I say instead that it’s a decades-old art heist that’s long stumped experts?

    Thanks!

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Nupur! I’m so glad you found the article helpful!

      I think it’s fine to use “greatest art heist” – if that feels accurate to your story and the tone of the script. It does feel big and a little over-the-top, but if that’s the feel of the script, then that’s great!

      It’s probably not necessary to explain why the protag is reluctant to use her powers — we can assume it will be explained in the script, and right now you just need that phrase to help flesh out the main character a bit. That seems like enough description of her for now.

      As for whether to specify the connection between the art heist and the murder, I think it depends. Yes, we probably assume they are related in some way. Is the exact nature of how they’re related a big part of the story? Meaning, is it the hook of the concept, or the main focus of the story? Does it affect the kinds of things the protag is doing in pursuit of her goal? Then it may be useful to include that in the logline, especially if you can do so in a nice, succinct, and catchy way.

      One small tweak to consider: in the current version of the logline, you have all the essential elements, but I’m not sure where the focus of the story is. Is the movie mainly about the psychic trying to prove her innocence? Or is it about what happens after she discovers the clue / connection to the art heist? I think clarifying that — the main thrust of the story — will help us visualize the movie you’re pitching.

      Hope that helps!

      • Nupur says:

        That’s such an insightful critique, Naomi! Yes, I’ll have to figure out what the thrust of the story is going to be. This is a prequel to the main story series: A psychic and a retired FBI agent team up to crack a decades-long art heist that’s long stumped experts. In each individual story they find one of the artifacts stolen, which leads them closer to the person who orchestrated the entire heist.

        However what leads up to the psychic and the retired Fed teaming up is the murder of the psychic’s boss, a bookstore owner, which is linked to the art heist in question. Being accused of his murder is the impetus she needs to develop her psychic powers. Of course, that could simply be a wrinkle in her efforts to find his killer.

        Or, the art heist clue could be something she uses to prove her own innocence, which brings her up against the folks behind the heist.

        As I struggle with this, I’m also struggling with genre. In my mind, as an avid mystery fan, this is a whodunit and some thing of a Dude with problem plot type–if the focus is on the protag. proving her innocence. If the focus is on the art heist, it becomes closer to the Golden fleece plot type. I’m having trouble envisioning most mysteries I like in the whydunit category.

        I hope you’ll consider a post that elucidates on the genre/plot types as well. Thanks!

        • Naomi says:

          Ah, that makes sense! So this is really an origin story of sorts — how this team of the Fed and the psychic comes to be.

          That’s a great suggestion for an article – thank you! As far as your story’s genre, I think it’s probably not a Golden Fleece story; it just doesn’t sound like it has those elements to me. So if you take that one off the table:

          – If the shape of the story is really about the psychic trying to prove her innocence, it’s probably a Dude With a Problem story.
          – If the story revolves around the psychic and the Fed solving the murder, then it’s more likely a Whydunit (or even a Buddy Love / Whydunit mashup).

          And it could definitely have elements of more than one genre!

          • Nupur says:

            Thank you so much! That really is very helpful. So something like Sherlock Holmes would fall in the Buddy Love/Whydunit category while The Orient Express–I haven’t seen it yet, but if they’ve stayed faithful to the book–should be squarely in the Whydunit category.

            My husband and I are re-watching some Dude with a problem type movies like Double Jeopardy. I’ll need to look into some Buddy Love/Whydunit movies since I think that’s where I’d prefer to go.

            Btw, what category would the ’97 movie starring Val Kilmer, The Saint, fall into?

  10. Scott Schlichter says:

    A rebellious heiress searching for freedom from the family path is kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries who thrust her into the brutal and convoluted counterculture of the 70’s – while encouraging her to join their fold and fight back against the pursuing authorities and her family. You know her as Patty Hearst.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Scott! This is a great logline and a great pitch!

      I know exactly who your main character is, what the conflict is, and what the movie looks like on screen. Nice work! Can’t wait to see this movie 🙂

  11. Nupur says:

    Just for practice, this is the longline I came up with for Double Jeopardy: A woman framed for her husband’s murder discovers he’s very much alive and decides to track him down and kill him since she can’t be tried for his murder again.

    • Nupur says:

      Sorry, meant logline. My phone changed it to longline!!!

      • Naomi says:

        Hi Nupur,

        Great job! You’ve captured the main character is (a woman who’s been framed), the goal is (track down the husband who faked his own death, and kill him!), and the opposition (the husband who wants to stay hidden and alive). Nice work!

        Re: your earlier comment – I haven’t seen The Saint in so long that I don’t remember it well enough to put it into a genre category.

  12. Joi True says:

    After suddenly realizing a guilty defendant is his son who had been stolen as an infant 17 years earlier, a moralistic judge recuses himself and then fights to win over his son’s hardened heart.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Joi! Nice work on this concept – it sounds like a great story with a lot of potential to be emotionally compelling. Right now the logline seems to have the essential:

      Main character – moralistic judge
      Goal – win over his son’s hardened heart
      Opposition – I think we can infer the opposition is the son, who doesn’t want to open up to the judge who is a stranger to him after all this time.

      We can probably also infer there’s some conflict in the events of the story — like maybe the son will be going through a trial during this time, or something like that. But that’s the part that seems to be missing from the logline right now. I’d love to see an indication of what happens in Act 2, and/or what method the judge uses to pursue his goal. That would help me see what we’re going to be watching in this movie.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Robbie says:

    When a poverty-stricken widower, longing for a better life for his children, discovers an amnesic and possibly insane billionaire passed out on the floor of the family home, the widower invents a wild tale and enlists the help of his quirky neighbors to keep the billionaire captive until a reward is offered.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Robbie! Nice concept! Reminds me of movies like The Grand Seduction and Waking Ned Devine.

      From your logline I can see the foundation of the story:

      Main character: poverty-stricken widower
      Goal: get a reward for the billionaire
      Opposition: I think we can infer the opposition is the billionaire, who doesn’t want to be held captive and may be insane.

      I also have a good idea of what happens after the setup because you’ve described the method the protag uses in order to achieve that goal. Nice work!

      • Robbie says:

        Thanks Naomi! Question: Based on the logline, which does this film seem to you: Rite Of Passage, or Buddy Love genre?

        • Naomi says:

          Hi Robbie,

          Just going by the logline alone, it could be a Buddy Love story if the main throughline is really focused on the relationship between the protag and the billionaire. I don’t think it’s an ROP. It could also be a comedic Monster in the House, tonally in the vein of Cable Guy. Or even a twist on the Golden Fleece. It just depends what the arc of the main throughline is.

  14. Remi K. Chevalier says:

    Excellent tips Naomi, very interesting – especially the fact that those little 4 words (decide – choose – realize -discover) can reveal a lack of substance for Act II.

    Here’s a pitch I’m working on – I would be delighted to have your thoughts on that. Will check other people loglines too!

    “A successful yet desperately lonely gold miner urges his family to join him in California during the Gold Rush and will ultimately lead them to misery. ”

    Cheers!

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Remi! Glad you found the tips useful.

      Your logline has some really compelling elements, and I think there are a few tweaks you might consider —

      So, I totally get who the main character is. I love the idea of him being desperately lonely because that makes perfect sense and I can imagine his situation, and I empathize with him.

      What I’m not yet as clear on is whether the movie is about the family’s journey to join him in California (sort of like a Meek’s Cutoff situation, perhaps), or if the movie is really about what happens after the family joins him. You hint at impending misery, but if that is what the movie’s main focus is (what happens once the family joins him), then you can get more specific and concrete with the description of what happens (and what you mean by “lead them to misery”).

      Hope that helps!

      • Remi K. Chevalier says:

        Thank you so much for this feedback Naomi!

        The script is about what happens to the family once in California, so yeah, I’m going to find a way to make that clearer and add some concrete elements.

        Very helpful indeed, thanks again Naomi!

  15. Tonya Zuniga says:

    Here’s what I came up with:
    What if you could prove the whole world believes a lie?

    • Naomi says:

      It’s a compelling question, Tonya, and might almost be more along the lines of a movie tagline than a logline. In the logline, we’d want to know a bit more about what actually happens in the movie. Who the protagonist is, what that character’s story goal is, what he/she is doing to pursue that goal, and what the main force of antagonism is. Those essentials are a great place to start working out your idea!

  16. Dan Murphy says:

    A lonely pool hustler must win his independence by competing against an experienced pool player while winning the love of his new girlfriend.

    • Remi K. Chevalier says:

      Hi Dan! I’m just a regular member, but I saw your logline and felt like giving you a feedback.

      First, and just based on the logline, I think it sounds a lot like The Hustler from 1961 – are there main differences between that movie and your script idea? If so, it might be interesting to put them in the logline itself.

      I’m a little bit confused about your main character especially on the “independence” notion — is that related to his family, over-protective parents, or a money-related issue? Could be great to clarify that in my opinion, because I feel like knowing more about the stakes behind that notion.

      Then, I’m wondering if there would be a way to connect his big game with the experienced pool player (who sounds like “the undefeated guy” right?) and the love story. For now, they don’t seem to connect and it sounds like a B story — perhaps there should be a way to connect those two journeys?

      Sounds promising Dan,
      Cheers!

      • Dan Murphy says:

        Hi Remi! Thanks for the feedback! I did clean up my logline and I drafted it several times. My script idea is sort of like The Hustler, except that the main character isn’t arrogant nor selfish. It isn’t as cynical as that movie is. The main character is lacking in self-esteem and his brother, whom he doesn’t like, doesn’t want him to end up in the streets. So, I did clean up a logline and the new one is this one:

        A street-wise, yet lonely pool hustler struggles to find the independence and love that he needs from his overprotective brother and his new girlfriend in order to compete against a professional pool player in a high-stakes tournament game.

        • Naomi says:

          Hi Dan! Thanks for posting your logline and sorry I’m late on commenting — but perhaps this worked out well since now I can comment on the new version.

          So, looking at the essentials:

          I know who your main character is – the streetwise yet lonely pool hustler. It sounds like his goal is to win this tournament. As for the antagonist, for the main goal the antagonist appears to be the pro player (that’s who’s standing in the way of the protag achieving his goal).

          But I’m not sure yet how that goal is also hindered by the main character’s other relationships. Is the idea that not having independence and love stands in his way of winning? Or are these relationships more like subplots that are intended to compliment the A-story and force the character arc? I think that can work – it does sound like an emotional, character-driven story that’s very much about the character’s internal growth.

          Hope that helps!

          • Dan Murphy says:

            Hey Remi! I got your comment! It is not having the independence and love that does stands in his way of winning the tournament. Today, I thought about the main character’s brother and at first, I did make him out to be a person who’s not so much of an antagonist, but he wants to see his brother succeed and to eventually grow up to be his own person and eventually have the courage to tell his girlfriend that he really loves her and wants to be with her.

          • Dan Murphy says:

            Whoops! I mean, Naomi. Sorry!

      • Naomi says:

        Great notes, Remi! 🙂

  17. Remi K. Chevalier says:

    Hi Noami — it’s me again! I really enjoyed getting a constructive feedback from you a couple of days ago, so I thought about trying here another logline I’m working on.

    The project’s called ‘The Harvest’ :

    “1889. With the rest of his crew, a self-effacing and naive lumberjack is enrolled by the leader of a morbid cult where he’ll be forced to conduct obscure rituals leading his beloved ones to death.”

    Thanks!

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Remi! I love the tone of this one — it sounds really dark, and right up my alley.

      This is a very nitpicky note, but I’d maybe cut the description “self-effacing” from the logline, only because it feels like it doesn’t quite go with the tone of everything else. “Naive lumberjack” is probably enough to convey who that character is, anyway.

      As for the logline itself, I think the concept is coming through pretty clearly. However, I would like a sense of who is active in this story. Meaning, is the lumberjack fighting back against the cult? Trying to escape? Or are we watching him perform these rituals totally at their mercy? And if he’s at their mercy, are we instead watching the family deal with the curse or whatever is coming after them and killing them? And if that’s the case, are the loved ones maybe the actual protagonists?

      I think you understand what I’m getting at — just making it clear who is trying to solve the big problem in the movie. Hope that makes sense – let me know if you have any questions!

  18. Paula Benge says:

    In order to earn her second chance at life, a survivor’s-guilt-ridden nurse strives to relieve her feelings of unworthiness by helping at a law-enforcement rehab facility by breaking the law

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Paula! Really cool idea here and just a couple of notes for you:

      “survivor’s-guilt-ridden” is a complicated description that takes a few seconds to understand. I’d try to simplify it to “a nurse suffering from survivor’s guilt” or something like that.

      As for the logline itself, I see who the main character is (the nurse), and I understand much of what she’s doing in the movie (helping at a law-enforcement rehab). What I’m less clear on is what is meant by “by breaking the law”. What law is she breaking, what does that tell us in terms of actions or opposition, etc. Getting clear on that part will help explain what’s happening in the movie, I think.

      The other part that I’m not clear on is what the opposition is. What’s stopping her from helping at the law-enforcement rehab? It very well may have something to do with the breaking-the-law part, but it would help to spell that out for us.

      And finally, while “earn her second chance at life” does tell us something about the character, it would be great if that endpoint could be be indicated in a more concrete way. What does a second chance at life look like for this character?

      Hope that helps!

  19. Christie says:

    An almost 30 actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown is recruited by her estranged childhood friends to play a role in the suburban reveal of her friend’s new identity.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Christie! I get a good sense of who your main character is and what her current stage of life is, so that’s great. But what I’m less clear on is what her story goal is. Is it to help her friend reveal a new identity? If so, we might need more detail to understand how that will take up an entire movie (right now it sounds like something that could be done in one scene, maybe two). Also, if her goal is something akin to ‘help her friend’ then it might be worth considering whether the actress is actually the true main character. It sounds like the friend might have a stronger goal and more to lose if she doesn’t achieve it.

      Once you’re clear on the story goal (what the character is trying to accomplish by the end of the movie), also let us know what the main force of opposition is — what’s the primary thing making it difficult to achieve this goal.

      Hope that helps!

  20. Richard Williamson says:

    During a seaside retreat, a former Navy intelligence officer, struggling with grief, “feverishly” investigates her suspicious young host whose apparent multiple identities may be hiding fatal tragedies.

  21. Richard Williamson says:

    “feverishly” is in quotes because I’m insecure as to whether it fits. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Richard!

      Your logline sounds really solid! I know who your main character is — grieving former Navy intelligence officer — and I know what her goal is — reveal the truth about her host — and I know what the opposition is — the host, who presumably doesn’t want to be exposed, as well as the apparent multiple identities, which I’m guessing may or may not be true. Great! That’s an awesome premise.

      I think the stakes are also implied — I can assume it’s a dangerous situation that will put your heroine’s life at risk. I do wonder if she has some personal connection to the possible killer — is her grief related to his past crimes, perhaps? That may help add another element of stakes and urgency to the concept. But overall I think it sounds really good.

      The “feverish” is really your call — does it feel accurate to the story? It indicates to me that either she’s frantic in her investigation for some reason (which might be worth trying to explain, if there’s some kind of ticking clock in play), or that she’s losing her own mind during the investigation, which is interesting too. Since there are a couple of interpretations, you probably could clarify that a bit just to make sure what you have in mind (and in the story) is being conveyed accurately in the logline.

      Hope that helps!

      • Richard Williamson says:

        Wow. Such great help. Thank you. Someone else pointed out to me that the genders weren’t clear and to try adding names as both characters are female, though unrelated to each other.

        You’ve also clarified changing the word to obsessively as its less time sensitive, and more loaded with mental health issues.

        During a seaside retreat, Rita, a former Navy intelligence officer, struggling with grief, obsessively investigates her suspicious young host, Elisabeth, whose apparent multiple identities may be hiding fatal tragedies.

        Thanks again.

        • Naomi says:

          You’re welcome – glad it was helpful!

          Using the names does help clarify/specify both characters are female, but I don’t know you need to in the logline unless the fact that both are female is important to the story. If you’re using this logline to pitch your project, I think I might also add something to directly indicate the stakes too. Maybe something like, “During a seaside retreat, a former Navy intelligence officer who is herself struggling with grief, becomes obsessed with investigating her young host, whose apparent multiple identities may be hiding fatal tragedies — and seem intent on destroying anyone who gets too close.”

          It doesn’t have to be that — use whatever is accurate to your story — but you get what I’m saying. Something to let us know the danger or urgency involved.

          Great story, though! Look forward to hearing your progress on it!

  22. Jane says:

    Project Title is: The Sunshine Girls

    I’ve got a bare bones log line:

    Set in 1973: Four misfit teenage girls, must find a strategy to save their town from a government mind control experiment.

    and an attempt at a more detailed one:

    Set in 1973: With help from their mood rings, four misfit teenagers: Vic, Jo, Beverly, and Terri find themselves temporarily immune from a C.I.A. mind control weapon that has threatened their town. It is a fight against the government as the loss of family, friends, and themselves closes in.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Jane! I think you’re on the right track here and maybe a combination of the two would convey the details we need. Maybe something like:

      “In 1973, four misfit teenage girls discover they are the only ones in their town who are immune from a CIA mind control experiment, and must take on the government to save their families, friends — and soon themselves, when their unique abilities become exposed.”

      Feel free to tweak that to best reflect what happens in your story. And I’d love to know something about *how* they take on the government, since that would let us know what we’re watching on screen.

      Hope that helps!

  23. Kat says:

    “A young girl with an abusive father escapes to Neverland where she must attempt to stay hidden despite being hunted by Captain Hook.”

    My goal is to make this an origin story for Tinker Bell, as she is the young girl, but I’m unsure of how to include that without disrupting the flow of the sentence. Thanks in advance!

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Kat! Nice – I like this concept and I think your logline is pretty solid already. I know who the main character is (young girl with an abusive father), I know what her goal is (hide from Captain Hook), and I know what the opposition is (Captain Hook, who is hunting her).

      Now, I think if you can add something about why Capt. Hook wants to capture her, that might also be a way to bring in the Tinker Bell information — which is great, and I think you should try to get that in there. An origin story for Tinker Bell is a good hook so that’s valuable information to include. It will be a longer sentence, but I think if you can get those extra few details in there we’ll get a better sense of the cool aspects of the story as well as some stakes/urgency.

      Hope that helps!

  24. James says:

    Hi Naomi, great article and fantastic help with the loglines. That’s very nice of you.

    Here’s mine for Wylde Hare:

    Cursed by a rabbit-bite as a young man, an aging motocross legend must provide for his large brood of kids and learn the true meaning of being a father by a return to racing against riders half his age, including the young hothead champion that’s engaged to and stealing his daughter from him.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey James! Very inventive story — that’s great. In your logline I can see who the main character is (aging motocross legend), what he’s going to do in the story (return to racing) as well as why he must do it. And I know who the opposition is (riders half his age, including his daughter’s fiance). So all of that is great. I wonder if there’s a specific race or event or something that might give the story a framework? Right now, returning to racing to provide for his family is good, but if there’s something specific that we’ll see in the movie that you can use in the logline to convey the framing of the story, that can help sort of solidify the movie in our minds. I think it’s great as-is, though!

  25. Gabriel says:

    Hi Naomi,

    Such a great article and your help is very much appreciated. Here’s my logline:

    After a proud psychologist discovers he has schizophrenia, he severs himself from his family until he can get better; but when he decides to cure himself on his own, he must learn that some obstacles can’t be solved by will-power alone, before he loses his sanity and family forever.

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Gabriel!

      Really interesting concept and subject matter here! I can tell who your main character is (proud psychologist) and I can tell what his goal is (cure himself of schizophrenia). I can also infer that the opposition is the schizophrenia itself, which I’m guessing is not an easy thing to cure. I can see what’s at stake (both his sanity and his family — great stakes!) The one thing that isn’t quite clear to me is what he’s actually doing to try to cure himself, which seems like it will be the bulk of the movie (your Act 2) and probably what’s unique and interesting about your movie. If you can give us an idea of what that method, strategy, or activity is, that’s going to show us what we’re watching in this movie. Hope that helps!

  26. Bill says:

    In a near-future world on the brink of war, a priest with wavering faith clashes with his former lover over whether the haunted young man asking him to kill a public figure is actually a fallen angel.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Bill! Really cool idea here. I think in this version of your logline, some of the concept is coming through but (the way it’s described here) it seems like the main action of the movie is two people clashing over whether something is true or not. That sounds a bit like an argument or a debate… which can work in some movies, but I’m not sure it accurately describes what you have in mind for this one. From the rest of the logline it seems like you have more action and excitement and tension in mind for this idea.

      So, from the logline I can tell who your main character is (the priest). And the world of the story (brink of war) adds great tension to the mix. I’m not totally sure what the priest’s story goal is… is it “to decide” whether or not to kill the public figure? (You can see from the blog post that “to decide” can be problematic.) Is it to prove his ex-lover wrong about the young man? That idea is interesting (that he’s not sure if the young man is a fallen angel), but may need to be fleshed out in the logline to convey the movie.

      I think you’re off to a great start, and what’s not quite clear from this version of the logline is what the protagonist’s goal and/or main action in this movie is going to be (and that’s what we’re going to be watching on screen in Act 2). Once you fill that in, I think you’ll have a really compelling logline.

      Hope that helps!

      • Bill says:

        Thanks for the insightful feedback, Naomi. I seem to suffer from some unnamed syndrome where every time I invent story scenarios from scratch, I invariably try to shape my protagonists in the vein of Rick Blaine, where coming to terms with moral responsibility is the central conflict…Even though I know these are some of the toughest narratives to craft and can very easily become navel-gazing. I need to try writing a revenge thriller or a chase story to get over my Casablancitis.

  27. Nikki says:

    Hello Naomi, thanks for the helpful article. I hope you are alright giving my logline a look. This is my first time attempting a script, so I am hoping for some feedback on how to strengthen it. I think I’ve got all the elements, but I’m not sure how clear they come across to the reader.

    “an impetuous wildlife rehabilitator unwittingly takes on a case to prove the innocence of an intergalactically reviled traitor when she fills in at her sister’s detective agency, and she must solve the case before the resulting target on her back does her in”

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Nikki! So glad you found it useful. I think you’ve done a good job here with your logline. I know who your main character is — “an impetuous wildlife rehabilitator.” I know the story goal — “prove the innocence of an intergalactically reviled traitor.” And I can infer there’s opposition to that goal because the action results in your protag becoming a target too.

      One small thing to consider — I’m not sure we need to know the protag is a wildlife rehabilitator in the logline — it doesn’t seem that relevant to the concept, from what I can see here. So there might be a better way to describe the protag for the logline (one that feels directly tied to the concept of the movie), or alternatively you might find a way to tie that existing description in so we understand why it’s important for us to know that she works with wildlife.

      Hope that helps!

  28. Timo says:

    Hello Naomi,
    I also wrote a logline. What do you think about it?
    Logline:
    The ambitious entrepreneur Paker is in a tough business period as he has to host the teenage girl Nancy, her younger brother Ben, who lives in his own world, and the 6 months old baby Tim at home. Does Biz and Kidz match?…

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Timo!

      It sounds like you have some familiar elements here so that’s a good start, and as you develop the logline I’d suggest thinking about a couple of things:

      1 – What’s different and unique about this concept? What’s the hook? It sounds a bit like Raising Helen meets The Pacifier or Three Men and a Baby or something similar – and those movies were great but since they’ve already been done, it’s worth considering how you can separate yourself from the pack. And that may just be in the details that aren’t yet included in the logline.

      2 – As far as the logline itself goes, I can tell who your main character is, and I understand what the problem is — ambitious entrepreneur must take care of three kids. So that’s a solid setup, but what the logline doesn’t yet convey is what happens in the rest of the movie. What’s the adventure of Act 2? What does the protagonist do to solve his problem? Including this in the logline will help us see what kind of movie we’re going to be watching, and may also help address the point I raised in #1, above.

      Hope that helps!

      • Timo says:

        Thanks a lot Naomi.
        Do you think this one is better:
        The ambitious entrepreneur Paker has to host the teenage girl Nancy, her younger brother Ben, who lives in his own world, and the 6 months old baby Tim at home, BUT things get tougher when the kids have to stay longer and Paker gets a new big business deal. Does Biz and Kidz match?…

        • Naomi says:

          Hi Timo,

          Generally you don’t need to include character names in the logline. Every once in a while it’s useful for clarity, but most of the time character names actually clutter up the logline.

          For the concept itself, the new big business deal does help let me know something about the conflict to come. But I think you can get more specific. What kind of business is he in? Will including that in the logline tell us something about where / how the story takes place? That might be helpful. How do the kids get in the way of that business deal? Is it just about the time constraints? Or is there more to it? Think about what details you can add to try to convey a sense of the movie itself — what we’ll be sitting in the theater watching.

          Hope that helps!

  29. Nick says:

    Hi! I just wrote a log line for a romantic comedy I am working on. I based this log line off of the template in BS’ “Save the Cat Strikes Back” book.

    On the verge of losing a big promotion, an arrogant, work obsessed New York publisher learns that a famous writer’s lost book is in the possession of an earthy, uneducated woman in a small, middle of nowhere town in Missouri and travels there under the guise of an actor doing research for a role to try and get the book from her and publish it; but when the relationship becomes romantic, he must learn that human connection trumps work, before he violates her trust, to stop his cold-hearted boss from ruining his one shot at true love.

    Thanks so much! I am open to all feedback.
    Nick

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Nick!

      I think this logline nicely conveys your movie. I know who your main character is – arrogant, work-obsessed NY publisher. I know what his problem is – about to lose a big promotion. And I know how he’s attempting to solve it – obtain the lost book. I also know what’s standing in his way – earthy, uneducated woman; false identity ruse; budding romance. so all of that is great! It may be a challenge, but if there’s any way to convey why that woman is the antagonist, that would be helpful. Right now I’m not quite sure why she would want to stop him, or why it matters that she’s uneducated — so what I’m looking for is a slightly clearer understanding of that conflict. But overall, really nice job!

      • Nick says:

        Thank you for your comments. Your point about the antagonist is spot on. I never thought of the Missouri woman as the formal “antagonist”, but she absolutely is. I included her motivation here below.

        The fact that she is uneducated is important for the story, because it’s a big part of why the two characters are from completely different worlds. But I understand if its not important for the sake of the log line.

        On the verge of losing a big promotion, an arrogant, work obsessed New York publisher learns that a famous writer’s lost book may is in the possession of an earthy, alpha woman in a small, middle of nowhere town in Missouri and travels there under the guise of an actor doing research for a role to try and get the book from her; but when the relationship becomes romantic, and the book proves to contain hidden family secrets, he must learn that human connection trumps prestige and profits, before he violates her trust, and lets his cold-hearted boss ruin his one shot at true love.

        My question now: does this still sound like a rom-com? Should I think of this more as a rom-dram?

        Thanks for the advice!
        Nick

        • Naomi says:

          Hey Nick!

          You’re right — it does sound a bit more dramatic, or maybe just tonally not quite as light and fluffy as we might assume a romcom should be. I definitely think you can still inject humor into it if that’s what you’re aiming for. Tone isn’t always easy to convey in a logline.

  30. John Connell says:

    Great insights! Here’s one of my storie:
    When a seemingly carefree playboy sets course to win the affections of a virginal Christian matchmaker, he collides against a righteous blockade that buckles only when she uncovers the personal trauma that cracked his moral compass. Romcom/Drama.
    Thanks, Naomi.
    John

  31. John Connell says:

    Great insights! Here’s one of my stories:
    When a seemingly carefree playboy sets course to win the affections of a virginal Christian matchmaker, he collides against a righteous blockade that buckles only when she uncovers the personal trauma that cracked his moral compass. Romcom/Drama.
    Thanks, Naomi.
    John
    Reply

    • Naomi says:

      Hi John!

      I think you have everything you need in this logline. I know who your main character is — seemingly carefree playboy. I know what his story goal is — to win the affections of a virginal Christian matchmaker. I get the instant conflict there (and the righteous blockade is a funny way of describing it). And I’m curious how this will turn out because I see that she softens when she learns of his past trauma, and I already begin to worry about the outcome and whether one or both of them are going to be hurt — all from the logline! Nice work.

  32. elija snow says:

    A demon-hunter and a 12 year old psychic must prevent the Queen of the Damn from getting an ancient relic with the power to destroy mankind?

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Elija! Sounds like a cool world and a potentially action-packed story, so that’s great. You have most of the essential elements here:

      Main character(s): demon hunter and 12-yo psychic
      Goal: prevent Queen of the Damned from getting ancient relic
      Opposition: Queen of the Damned and her minions, I’m assuming
      Stakes: mankind will be destroyed

      There’s one more thing you could include that would help us see the movie in this concept, and that’s some indication of what the heroes are doing in pursuit of their goal. HOW do they have to try to stop the relic from getting in the Queen’s hands? What kinds of actions does that require of them? What environments and types of things/characters will they encounter? You don’t have to include answers to all of these questions in the logline, of course. But if you can give us some pertinent detail that can really help us understand what we’ll be watching on screen.

      Hope that helps!

  33. Dano de Mano says:

    A shattered detective saves his murdered fiancé in a deal with the devil, but finds a return to life carries more debts than one soul can repay.

    • Dano de Mano says:

      After writing my logline, I am wondering if the first one would be received better by the actual audience (as it conveys more mystery) vs agents, producers and directors who want something more like:

      A shattered detective saves his murdered fiancé in a deal with the devil, but after waking in the past must still prevent her eminent fate as he questions his own sanity and perception of death.

      In advance of deep humble bows … Thx!

  34. Naomi says:

    Hey Dano! Yes – I think you nailed it — your first logline is almost more of a tagline, since it’s enticing but doesn’t describe the story as fully as you might in a logline to use for development or to submit to someone like a manager or producer.

    And I really like your expanded logline. I think it has the essentials plus a strong indication of conflict both internal and external. Nice job!

  35. Yolanda says:

    A seemingly self-assured woman battles a crisis of faith, and sanity, during the Christmas season when unprecedented supernatural premonitions and empathic feelings disrupt her life, leading her to join forces with earth-bound protectors to save the souls and lives of her dysfunctional family from evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.

    **I feel like I’m missing something. But, not quite sure what. Looking forward to your feedback. Thanks!!**

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Yolanda! Thanks so much for posting your logline!

      So, to me the logline is a little confusing right now — there’s a lot going on in it, and the story isn’t coming through that clearly. I always start with the essentials and then try to build up from there:

      Protag – seemingly self-assured woman
      Goal – save the souls and lives of her dysfunctional family
      Opposition – evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world

      When we parse it out like this, I think it’s easier to see that the goal and opposition are somewhat vague descriptions. They don’t give us a really solid sense of what’s happening in the movie.

      What does it mean to “save the souls and lives” of her family? What does that look like in concrete ways? How do we see it on screen? And what are the physical actions that have to be taken to achieve this goal? (The “method” I mention in the blog post.)

      And with the opposition, who are these evil rulers? What do they rule? What is the “unseen world”? If this is something you’re inventing (meaning, it’s unfamiliar to us) then you might need to explain it a bit more so we can grasp the concept.

      Hope that helps and gives you a starting point to begin to tweak your logline!

      Best,
      Naomi

  36. Yolanda says:

    After returning to her family home for the first time in decades, a grief-stricken woman struggles to quell longstanding family animosity and build a bridge to healing.

  37. Yolanda says:

    Or, is this any better?

    Ostracized by her family, a woman returns home for Christmas for the first time in decades hoping to bring an end to long-standing family enmity and receives a little help from heavenly angels.

  38. Yolanda says:

    Wait, I forgot the stakes. Sorry…I don’t mean to be annoying/pestering.

    Ostracized by her family, a woman struggling with a sense of belonging and identity receives a little help from heavenly angels when she returns to her childhood home for the first time in decades at Christmas hoping to bring an end to long-standing family enmity.

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Yolanda! Your logline conveys an interesting and emotional tone, so nice work there. I know who your main character is with a woman struggling with a sense of belonging/identity, however I’m not totally sure what that means in concrete terms. As a reader, I’m willing to go with it if the rest of the logline is clear and compelling, but just something to keep in mind. If you can give us a more solid sense of what you’re trying to convey, that’s usually better. “Grief-stricken” (as you had in the first version) is actually much more clear.

      As far as story goal, I know that she returns to her childhood home to “bring an end to long-standing family enmity” which is good. But as far as her method to achieve it, again, I’m not sure what that means in concrete terms. What will I be watching onscreen? Is she staging an intervention? Is she going to hold her family hostage until they kiss and makeup? Is she going to kill the worst offender? Is she going to brainwash them all into forgiving each other? You mention getting help from heavenly angels — does that mean she can see them? She can enlist their help? Does she know they’re there? Let’s get a clearer sense of what’s happening in act 2 of the movie, since that’s the real meat of it — that’s what the movie is.

      Hope that helps!

      Naomi

  39. Ryan H says:

    Logline-
    “A sensitive boy from the farm with a skill for map-making takes to the skies with a motley airship crew to discover a lost continent, but the big wide world holds ancient machines and imperial conquerors who would hide the land of the Ancestors or seize its riches for power.”

    ——

    I’ve got a lot of ideas about the fantastical steampunk world this takes place on, a water-world with floating islands instead of proper land. Am I correct in thinking that is excessive information to put into the logline, compared to the Protagonist /Doing what / Antagonist information? ie, an “In a world of floating islands and endless seas” mixed in there would start stretching the one sentence too long?

    Similarly, as my idea is for a cartoon TV series that involves animal-people (the main character I have drawn up is a literal cow-boy), is that relevant to a logline? Would a logline for The Lord of the Rings, or Guardians of the Galaxy for example, need any detail in a logline to describe the kind of fantasy/sci fi world or aliens/fictional races it was in?

    • Naomi says:

      Hey Ryan! Thanks so much for your comment!

      With your logline, I get a real sense of the inventiveness of the story and I know who your main character is (boy from the farm). It looks like his story goal is to find the lost continent and the forces of antagonism are ancient machines and imperial conquerors who are working against him. So that’s great!

      And yes – generally you don’t want to pack your logline with too much detail because that can overwhelm the story you’re trying to convey. However, if you were pitching this project and wanted to add in something about the steampunk style of the world in order to really nail the tone, I think that would be fine. And I really like the addition of “In a world of floating islands and endless seas” because it helps set the fantastical world. So again, for your internal development you probably don’t need it but if you’re pitching this I think enhancing and establishing the world and tone would be smart (since that’s part of the appeal of the project overall).

      Same with your cow-boy, actually, if you can fit it in elegantly. If adding that detail makes the logline unwieldy, you might think about the structure of your pitch and where else you can put that information. You might have a logline that just includes the world (“In a world of floating islands and endless seas”) and the basics, then in the next paragraph explain the steampunk style and the unique aspects of the characters.

      Hope that helps!

  40. While trying to save a young, trafficked girl, an addiction-ridden minor league baseball player battles an illicit underworld and begins to discover his true identity.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Matt,

      Nice work on this logline! I can see who your main character is (addiction-ridden minor league baseball player) and what his goal is (to save a young, trafficked girl). I think the “battles an illicit underworld” part is interesting but still a little bit vague. If you can get more specific with what the protag has to do in order to achieve his goal, we’ll have a better understanding of what’s happening in the movie. Does “battles an illicit underworld” mean he becomes a vigilante? Or that he literally goes to the underworld — as in, he goes to hell to get the girl back. Or something else entirely? When there are so many different possibilities in play, it means the logline can still get more specific. That may also help you get clearer about who/what the forces of antagonism are.

      Hope that helps!

      Naomi

  41. Shane says:

    A Spanish monk with a violent past gives up his last hope for redemption when he discovers that he is caught up in the cardinal’s plot to murder the royal family and tries to thwart it.

    Thanks!
    Shane

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Shane,

      I think this is really solid! I know who your main character is, and what his goal is. I can infer the method he’ll go about it might draw on his violent past, so that’s great. And I know what the main opposition is, as well as what’s at stake! Sounds like an interesting story. Nice work!

      Naomi

      • Shane says:

        Wow, thank you for your feedback, Naomi. I really appreciate it.

        I have worked out my beats a la STC and am working through Truby’s Anatomy of Story. The discipline to clarify my vision is really demanding. Sometimes I can’t make myself sit down and work that hard, but sometimes I can. And that’s when I make discoveries–about me!–and breakthroughs in my story.

        Thanks again!
        Shane

  42. DJ says:

    An alcoholic therapist takes a reluctant group of clients on a spiritual retreat where they encounter a raving demon hellbent on forging a brutal, painful and difficult path to enlightenment.

    • Naomi says:

      Hi DJ,

      Thanks for posting your logline! It sounds like an intriguing idea. I can see who your main character is (alcoholic therapist). The story goal is probably something along the lines of “to survive the retreat”, but it might vary depending on how you’re structuring the story. And I can see who the antagonist is, but I think there’s something about the antag that either could be described differently or you might be worth considering further. Right now it appears that the antag’s goal or motivation behind his actions is to get the group of people to an enlightened state. (“they encounter a raving demon hellbent on forging a brutal, painful and difficult path to enlightenment”) But if that’s the antag’s motivation, and that’s actually a good thing… why would we be rooting for the antag to fail (and the protag to succeed)? This might just need a little clarification to let us know precisely what the goals are for both protag and antag, and that there’s something at stake (which may come naturally out of clarifying those goals). Perhaps the stakes are that the side effect of the antag pushing them to enlightenment is that they’ll all die, or — depending on the genre and tone of your script — maybe it’s more like if the antag succeeds, the protag will be out of a job and he can’t have that, he’ll lose his house or his family or whatever. Neither of those are probably right for your story, but I think you see what I’m getting at. We need to understand how the protag and antag are at odds and why we should get behind the protag to succeed. Hope that helps!

      • DJ says:

        I am truly grateful for your generous feedback. I made some changes:

        An alcoholic therapist takes a reluctant group of clients on a retreat, isolating them from their various addictions, only to encounter a raving demon hellbent on devouring egos.

        • Naomi says:

          Great! In this version I can see how the concept works:
          Main character – alcoholic therapist
          Goal – treat clients’ addictions via isolating retreat
          Opposition – raving demon who wants to eat their egos

          The interplay of those pieces is much clearer now, I think. Nice work! One thing to think about – and this is probably something to address in the script rather than in the logline – is there something about these clients’ egos that’s particularly appealing to this demon? Or is this a random attack? Would this demon have eaten any egos he could get his hands on? The reason I ask is your specific use of the word “ego” – which makes me think the theme or big idea behind the movie has something to do with the nature of addiction. That could be interesting and might be worth mining further if you haven’t already. Best of luck!

  43. Lelê Teles says:

    Oi, Naomi.

    1. Estudante de veterinária, e filha de conceituado professor do ensino médio, sofre um linchamento virtual após ter um vídeo de sexo exposto na rede pelo ex-namorado. Ela precisa encontrar forças para reverter isso, pois o escândalo pode prejudicar sua vida social, seu futuro profissional e custar o emprego do pai.

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