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WRITER'S LIFE
Screen & Stage
January, 2008


InkTip

Writing Lofty Loglines
Keep 'em short and sweet
By  Jerrol LeBaron

The synopsis and logline are the keys that open the door to getting your script read.
M
ost writers resent the idea that in order to have someone read their script, they have to take 90-120 pages (and who knows how many hours in writing) and distill it down to one 450+/- word synopsis, let alone a logline. 

If the producers want to know what the story is about, they should just read the script, right?!

Well, unfortunately, that's just not the way it works. Loglines and synopses are accepted means by which writers can entice the producer to read their script. In fact, the use of loglines is becoming more and more common, much to the dismay of most writers. Unless you personally know Steven Spielberg, there is no getting around writing a good logline and synopsis.

The synopsis and logline are the keys that open the door to getting your script read. The same amount of care that a writer takes in writing a script should also be taken in writing the logline and synopsis. 

The following gives you a general idea of what your logline should achieve:

An audience/studio/producer should be able get the full concept of the script from basically one to three sentences. They will know immediately what the whole movie is about. Never describe details of your script in the logline. That is what the synopsis and/or treatment are for.

Writing a synopsis and logline:

Synopses and loglines are actually easy to write, once you understand the process. This is the same for pitching a script over the phone or in person. What a writer needs to do is break down the story to its most simple basic elements. 

This is hard for a writer because of all of the detail a writer has to go through in writing the script. After all, every scene is important or it wouldn’t be in the script. Writers have a tendency to think that these all-important details must not only be in the synopsis, but also the logline. This is definitely incorrect in the case of loglines and is almost always incorrect for the synopsis as well.

Instead of trying to crunch an entire script down to a synopsis or logline, try to do it from the reverse. Every script can be described in one to two words and still give a person a basic understanding of the story. This is done all day long in the industry. The most basic term used for this one-word description is genre (Romantic Comedy, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, etc. [no details, just one word]). 

With the logline you are just expanding it a little bit more, without details. Think of the basic idea behind the story. 

Examples:

Drama: A farmer struggles to keep his family together during the Depression. 
Drama: A former American president defects to Russia.
Sci-Fi: The assassination of both leaders turns an interplanetary civil war on its ear.

There are lots and lots of examples of this for existing movies on IMDB.com.

Now with the genre and logline taken care of, expand it just a bit further (one page) and you have a synopsis.IN Icon


Jerrol LeBaron is President of InkTip.com, which the Los Angeles Times recently quoted as one of the “fab-five” screenwriting sites on the Internet. In the past two years, 21 films have been produced from scripts and writers found through InkTip! For more information, please see www.InkTip.com/endorse.php

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© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

Screen & Stage
IN This Issue
Novel To Screenplay: Adaptation 101
Learning The Lingo
Elevator Exposure
Who Profits?
On The (Back) Lot
Lingua Scriptus
Part II: The Script's Key Plot Points
Part I: The Script's Key Plot Points
Origin Of The Screenplay
Scriptspeak: Writing Dialogue

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