Crafting Memorable Loglines that Sell

Crafting Memorable Loglines that Sell

Craft a logline that teases your story's essence and protagonist's quest, enticing readers with brevity and intrigue.

Ah, the logline: that tiny little sentence that carries the weight of your entire story on its shoulders. It's the first (and sometimes only) chance to grab a reader's, producer's, or audience's attention. No pressure, right? Well, fear not! Let's break down the art of crafting loglines that not only pique interest but also sell your story effectively.

1. The Essence of Your Epic: Core Elements of a Logline

Writing a logline involves distilling your movie's essence into a single, engaging sentence, crucial both for pitching and story development. It should clearly convey the protagonist's goal and the obstacles faced, showcasing the main action without giving everything away. To craft an effective logline, highlight the core of your story—character, conflict, and goal—succinctly, ensuring it reflects your screenplay's heart and engages potential stakeholders.

You'll want to introduce your protagonist and their primary challenge, setting the stage for conflict and intrigue​​. It's about clarity and brevity, summarizing the heart of your narrative in a sharp, succinct pitch. Think of "Game of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad" – both offer a taste of their complex worlds with simple, high-stakes snapshots​​.

2. A Recipe for Intrigue: The Logline Formula

There's a basic formula that can help you start crafting your logline: Inciting Incident + Character Type + Objective + Stakes​​. For instance, "When a killer shark unleashes chaos, a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer must hunt it down before it kills again." This strucThere's a basic formula that can help you start crafting your logline: Inciting Incident + Character Type + Objective + Stakes​​. 

For instance, "When a killer shark unleashes chaos, a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer must hunt it down before it kills again." This structure helps identify the critical elements of your story, setting the stage for further refinement.

A good logline should include the protagonist, their goal, the antagonist or main obstacle, and what's at stake. It should emphasize clarity, stakes, and the protagonist's journey, in order for others to grasp the concept quickly.

A __________ must ___________ or else/ in order to ______________.
___________ (description of flawed hero - use one adjective) must __________ before ____________ (dire things will happen).

3. The Devil's in the Details: Tweaking for Perfection

Crafting the perfect logline involves tweaking and revising. Avoid revealing the ending or detailing the third act; the goal is to leave the reader wanting more​​. Emphasize the ironies and contradictions in your story, and don’t shy away from omitting details that don’t directly influence the logline's core elements. It's about striking a balance between providing enough detail to entice and maintaining an air of mystery​​.

4. Brevity is Your Best Friend: Keeping It Concise

Brevity is crucial. Industry insiders are swamped with screenplays; they rely on loglines to quickly gauge whether a concept has potential​​. Aim for 25-50 words, focusing on character types rather than names to offer instant descriptions and context​​. Remember, each word should serve a purpose, pushing the narrative and hinting at underlying drama or comedy​​.

5. What do I want my audience to feel?

At the heart of screenwriting is the pivotal question: “What do I want my audience to feel?” This central inquiry guides the creation of stories designed to evoke specific emotions and responses. A well-crafted logline and by extension, screenplay, aims to either challenge or confirm people’s assumptions, potentially inspiring action or offering moments of joy and laughter. Incorporating unexpected twists and underdog tales enriches the narrative, engaging audiences by showcasing resilience and triumph against odds. These elements, when woven together, create a compelling cinematic journey that resonates deeply, leaving a lasting impact.

Expanding on this concept, screenwriting transcends mere storytelling; it's about forging a connection with the audience through a journey that can alter perspectives, provoke thought, or simply entertain. By crafting narratives that challenge or confirm assumptions, screenwriters have the power to reflect or reshape societal views. Inspiring action through storytelling means screenwriters can influence real-world changes or motivate individuals. Integrating humor and unexpected twists keeps the audience engaged, while underdog stories universally resonate, reflecting the human spirit's resilience. This blend of elements is what makes screenwriting an art form capable of touching hearts and minds.

A good story should:

  • Challenge or confirm people’s assumptions.
  • Inspire people to take action. 
  • Make people laugh or smile.
  • Have unexpected twists.
  • Have an underdog story. Everybody loves a story with unexpected heroes.


Crafting a logline is like creating a key that unlocks the gateway to your story's universe. It's a balancing act of distilling your narrative to its most compelling core while leaving enough unsaid to ignite curiosity. Whether your tale is a sprawling epic or a deeply personal journey, the right logline can ensure it gets the attention it deserves. So take these tips, refine your craft, and prepare to introduce your story to the world—one tantalizing sentence at a time.



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Corbin is a filmmaker and photographer committed to positively influencing those around him.