Edward Albee once said "Any play that can be described in one line should be only one line long.��
I couldn’t agree more, but the reality is we need loglines to help sell our scripts, and they are not going away, at least not in my lifetime.
As I was so at war with these little monsters, I finally decided to take the time to seriously study what I considered to be excellent loglines and try to figure out how and why they worked.
A logline is not a synopsis but rather a mini-pitch which is all about selling the script. It must create excitement and intrigue in the reader.
Out of hundreds of loglines I studied, I found about twenty that I thought really worked. I then began to seek out a pattern that they might all share. I wanted to know what it was about these loglines that intrigued and excited me?
What was it about them that made me want to know more? What I discovered is that they expressed a sense of kinetic action in the way they revealed their story. They hit the ground running by beginning with an action verb.
They also drew me into their story by expressing through a descriptive adverb the inciting incident and their character’s fatal flaw.
Each logline ended with a realization of sorts. It was either a realization on the part of the protagonist’s Inner Journey or a realization of discovery on the part of the reader/listener.
Here is the template that I now follow when creating a Kinetic Logline along with several examples.
The Kinetic Logline Template:
- Action Verb
- Inciting Incident
- Outer Journey
- Realization of Inner Journey
The action verb sets the logline in active mode right from the outset; a kinetic energy is in place.
The inciting incident sets the storyline in action.
The protagonist’sfatal flaw is expressed through a descriptive adverb. This is often where the log line makes a visceral connection with the reader or listener.
Next is the outer journey; what is the story about?
This is followed by a form of crisis or conflict.
The logline should conclude with a realization. This can be either a realization on the part of the protagonist (inner journey) or a realization made by the reader or listener.
A great example of this is the logline for The Full Monty. In this example the realization is made by the characters themselves.
“Driven by financial despair, six unemployed steel workers become strippers to make ends meet and, in doing so, find their own self worth.”
It begins with an action verb that sets the logline in active mode right from the outset; a kinetic energy is in place.
It follows with a descriptive adverb that describes the fatal flaw and inciting incidence. It includes the inner and outer journey and ends with a realization.
Action Verb: Driven
Inciting Incident: Unemployed
Fatal Flaw: Financial despair
Protagonist: Steel Workers
Outer Journey: Become Strippers
Crisis/Conflict: Make ends meet
Realization: Find their self worth.
Here is another example. This time the realization occurs in the reader/listener rather than the character.
“Forced into hiding for a crime he didn’t do, a despondent cop attempts to prove his innocence for a murder he has not yet committed.”
Action Verb: Forced into hiding
Inciting Incident: A crime he didn’t do
Fatal Flaw: Despondent
Outer Journey: Attempts to prove his innocence
Crisis: For a murder
Realization: He has not yet committed.
There are other ways to approach loglines that are just as valid, but for me this template works, and I see no reason why it won’t work for you.
The Recommended Table Readings
For those of you in the L.A. area you might find this of interest. The Visual Mindscape's 'The Recommended' is a group of writers who have been trained through the use of the Visual Mindscape and hold table readings at the Howard Fine Studio, 1445 N. Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood. If you are interested in checking it out, or in joining the group either as a writer or an actor, you can come and audit the next reading on Wednesday the 11th at 7 pm.
You can leave a comment here if you wish to attend or want more information.
- More Visual Mindscape articles by Bill Boyle
- Loglines: The First Essential Step to Defining and Elevating Your Story
- Is Your Idea Good Enough?
- Loglines and You: How to Get Your Screenplay Read by Strangers in the Industry
Tools to Help:
- Loglines and Query Letter Strategies That Work
- Monday Morning Editor Picks: Breaking In with Adaptations, Loglines, & Unusual Contests
- How to Write a Query Letter