“Loglines” Episode 2 of the Karmic Courage Screenwriting Series

Workshops

One day in April, 2011, Kate Chaplin and Veronica Diaz from Karmic Courage Productions sat down to discuss screenwriting.

This episode is all about loglines. Loglines are 2-3 sentences that describe a script/book/play. Chaplin and Diaz breakdown loglines to three basic elements and give tips and examples to help writers gain more interest in their material because they have a strong logline.

Tips Mentioned In This Episode:

  1. Loglines are the lifeline to your material. It’s what an agent is going to read first. It’s what will entice a producer/director/actor and ultimately it’s what will get people to come see your movie in the theater
  2. Loglines are a taste of your material so that an audience can know if it’s their cup of tea. Movies are not one size fits all
  3. Write your logline before you write the script
  4. Test out your logline to friends, family and trusted colleagues
  5. Write 10 loglines per script
  6. Allude to as much conflict as possible in your logline
  7. Conflict is the choice between two very bad decisions
  8. Allow the audience to think, “I don’t know if the character can solve that problem”
  9. The more “fish out of water” the character is to the problem, the more conflict and interesting
  10. Don’t use character names in your logline, use a strong adjective and a profession
  11. If you don’t feel your logline is working ask yourself: is the character too flat, too ordinary? Is the character too equip to handle the problem? Is the problem too easy to solve?

The Logline Breakdown

  1. Who is your hero?
  2. What is his/her problem?
  3. How are they going to solve it?

Example #1 – A high school boy is given a chance to write for Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming band as he accompanies them on tour. – Almost Famous (2000)

  1. Who is your hero — A high school boy
  2. What is his problem — he’s given a chance to write for Rolling Stone
  3. How is he going to solve it — accompanies the band on tour

Example #2 – A high-powered surgeon wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, sets out to find the real killer, the one-armed man. – The Fugitive (1993)

  1. Who is your hero — A high-powered surgeon
  2. What is his problem — he’s wrongfully accused of murdering his wife
  3. How is he going to solve it — he’s going to go after the real killer, the one-armed man

Example #3 – After his son’s birthday wish, a shyster lawyer can’t tell a lie for 24 hours – Liar, Liar (1997)

  1. Who is your hero –A shyster lawyer
  2. What is his problem – he can’t tell a lie
  3. How is he going to solve it — intriguing enough to leave open

Example #4 – The aging patriarch of an organized crime family transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son – The Godfather (1972)

  1. Who is your hero — and aging patriarch of an organized crime family
  2. What is his problem – he need to transfer control
  3. How is he going to solve it – turns over the reigns to his reluctant son

Links Mentioned in This Episode: 

  • Tv Guide – What used to be the best place to read multiple loglines, now there are more sites for great research on loglines
  • IMDB – Internet Movie Database, a great resource for movie loglines past, present and upcoming
  • Fandango – A listing of what is currently in theaters, with of course, their loglines
  • Netflix – Wondering what do watch tonight? Read some loglines on Netflix and see what does and doesn’t get your interest

Helpful Books Related to This Episode:

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