Peggy Bechko: Yikes! They Want Me to Write a Logline!

by PeggyBechko

Have you taken time to sit down and consider a logline for your script? Of course you have – presuming you’re writing scripts. And I’d go so far here as to say it’s not a bad idea to consider loglines and how they’re created if you’re a novelist as well. It’s kind of your ‘elevator pitch’.

Everyone is forever in a hurry so I’m going to give some space to what NOT to do when thinking about creating a logline, aka the short pitch if you’re writing other things and want to get a short pithy hook out there to snag an editor or producer.

Producers and Editors are notorious for being in a hurry and expecting a pitch or a logline to grab them all on its own. I don’t blame them really. They’re buried under scripts and manuscripts and meetings and a lot more that we, as writers, don’t think about. Is it so unreasonable to not want to have to slog through even more paper than they already do?

So, as a writer, it’s your job to really set that hook.

As a writer you want to create words and characters with cool names that will be remembered always… or at least long enough that you enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame. That said, I’m absolutely sure you’ve polished your script to a fine glow, creating cool sounding places and equally cool sounding names for your character.

You want to show off your dazzling creation. First almost rule (there aren’t any actual rules really); leave all those cool sounding names out of your logline. They make perfect sense in context of your story, but a logline? Want a producer to ask to see the script? Trust me, leave them out. No people names, no geographical locations.

Focus on the theme and the action. Get to the meat of the matter. A logline is one (maybe two) sentences. Use them wisely. Don’t throw in names someone would know only if they’d seen the movie – which hasn’t yet been made.

Your job, as a writer eager to sell a script or manuscript is to offer what is a marketable (yes, we’re trying to sell some writing here) story. To do that it’s imperative to offer a kernel of that story with hook enough to grab a Producer or Editor and to do that without forcing said Producer or Editor to sift through an unkempt bed of a logline to get to it.

What else doesn’t belong in a logline? All of those flattering credits like placing in a contest someone heard of or no one heard of. Giving all kinds of detail about what the script is such as genre.

If you’re a diligent writer who’s submitting I hope you’ve done your research and are offering a script to a producer that’s in a genre that producer has already worked in or is perhaps soliciting ideas for, or some other reason you would have to believe that producer would be interested in the script you’re pitching.

Now, if you want to give your logline a little punch with a credit like, “Winner of Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship” and finalist in others (that’s a biggie) then add it in a second sentence after the pitch line with the further suggestion the reader see more in your synopsis (then don’t forget to put it there). But keep it short!

Remember they’re out there, reading lots of loglines – but, they’re loglines that are short and sweet. When a slog develops, they move on.

The process in novel world is a bit different and I’d advise looking into the details Editors require that are different than scripts (i.e. fiction or non, word count, genre, etc.). Nonetheless, boiling your novel down to a single logline isn’t a bad idea.

There are other things you shouldn’t do in your quest to get your logline read like providing unnecessary details or unnecessary second sentences when one will do.

Fact is, there’s always something else. But, the writer who gets some focus and can be ruthless with their work, slashing mercilessly, reading and rereading until that logline shines, will find the reader who will request that script.

Keep at it. You can do it. When all is said and done, here’s the simple truth: “Knowledgeable writers never have to say ‘Yikes!'”

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

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