What is a logline?
A logline is a way to break your story down to its lowest common denominator. It’s a sentence that tells what the story is at its core. Loglines originated in Hollywood and are used by screenwriters to pitch stories to studios, but you can use a logline for any kind of story. Books, movies, comic books, audio dramas, operas… If it has a story, you can logline it.
Here’s an example from a movie I’m pretty sure you’ve seen:
The Wizard of Oz: After a tornado carries her house to a magical land, a lonely girl must overcome a wicked witch to get help from a legendary wizard who can send her home.
Does a logline have to be just one sentence?
In my opinion, yes. Although some people say a logline can be as many as three sentences, I advise you to keep it to one sentence only. That way, you’re forced to stick to the essentials. One sentence is far easier to read and remember, giving you an advantage in the simplicity department as well.
What’s the difference between a logline and a summary?
A summary is a paragraph or two that tells about the story, characters, and setting. It’s like what you’d read on the back of a book or DVD case. A logline is just one sentence that gives the essentials of the story. You can memorize it and use it to quickly get across what your story is.
What can I do with a logline?
There are many uses for a logline, but here are just a few to get you started.
Pitch your story
When somebody asks what your story is about, you can whip out your logline and answer them without fumbling around. You look professional, they get interested, and things are happy!
Write an Amazon description
Your logline is already a compelling description of your story. Now you can expand it for a killer Amazon description that will get people excited about your story.
Check your story against it
If you write your logline before you begin drafting your story, you’ll end up with a sort of map of where you want to go. When you finish your draft, pull out your logline again and check to see if your story is true to the sentence that was so compelling in the first place. Are there changes you can make to better fit your story’s through-line?
How do I write a logline?
You’ve come to the right place! My book Finding the Core of Your Story is a perfect way to get started. I even have a free sample that lets you read one of the first chapters, which is a crash-course in logline writing. Enjoy!