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What Screenplay Writers Must Know About Loglines
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Loglines are no doubt important to getting your screenplay sold. They tell the potential reader in a few short words what the script is going to be about. This is more important that you might think. Would you ever spend hours of your life reading a book or watching a movie without knowing anything about it at all beforehand? I didn't think so. You would want to know at least a couple of sentences. What genre of movie is it? What's it about? Where does it take place? Basically, a logline lets someone who buys scripts know if yours is worth their time to read or not.
It is also important that a logline be short, much less so than a synopsis. The reason is two-fold. You need to keep the readers attention and you don't necessarily want to give everything away before the reader finishes. Imagine if you ask someone what a movie that you might want to see is about. Would you like it if they talked about it for five or ten minutes? You would probably tune them out. The last thing that you want is to bore your audience, or even worse make them think that it is a burdensome to read your logline in the first place. You would probably like it even less if he or she told you the entire story. There would be no point for you to even bother watching the movie.
How long should a logline be? Most advice you will get is probably going to be very specific, that a logline should be only one sentence. However, this can lead to frustration. Chances are that you will become obsessed with the one sentence rule that your logline must all fit before that period. You will probably make one of two mistakes. You may eliminate too much from your logline, leaving out important parts. You are just as likely to attempt a crazy run-on sentence with all sorts of semi-colons and commas. Not only is such a sentence hard to read, but it takes away from the message you are trying to convey with your logline.
If you feel you need two, or even three, sentences to complete your logline, don't stress about it. I can almost guarantee you that no producer has ever looked at a logline, saw that it was more than one sentence and made a decision based on that fact alone. Don't focus one getting your logline to fit into somebody's made up rule of thumb. Instead focus on the point of the supposed rule, brevity. If you're really somebody who needs to follow rules, a logline should be concise yet complete, and never longer than three sentences. A logline doesn't need to be a play-by-play of everything that happens in a script, but it does need to show what about your script is unique and how it will appeal to an audience.
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