Text: What is a Logline and How to Write it?
Screenwriting Basics,  Screenwriting Tips

5 Important Steps to Write a Better Logline

Lots of people are talking about the logline, but what is a logline and why it is so important? How can you write a good logline?

In this article I’m going to show you, what is, in my opinion, the best method to use in order to write a strong logline. Keep reading to find out what are the 5 most important steps to write a better logline!

But first things first. What is a logline?
A logline is a one sentence (two, tops) summary of your story.

Uses of a Logline

Why we write loglines? Why we need it?
A logline has two different important uses.

1) To sell your script. The most known use of a logline is to sell your script. It is the first thing you say when you’re pitching your story. So, it has to be really interesting and grab the attention immediately. It has to hook your audience as soon as they hear it.
2) To keep you on track. The second thing why you need a good, strong logline BEFORE you start writing your script, is to help you stay focused on the strong parts of your script, while you’re writing it. Every time, your writing strays away, you should reread your logline and remember to keep in your script only the things that make it strong. Sometimes, we like our writing so much, that we forget our goal. A strong logline will help you at these moments to come back to your goal.
If you create a good logline before you start writing your screenplay, you avoid losing too much time writing the wrong idea. A weak logline many times indicates also a weak script. Whereas, a strong logline can be your guide on which things are the most important in your story.

The Five Steps

The screenwriter Michael Lengsfield has come up with an easy way to remember how to prepare your pitch using the Five Finger method and I believe that this is the best method to use in order to build a strong logline.

Here’s the Five Finger Method:

Every logline should consist of these five elements.

  • The Genre of the film
  • The main protagonist
  • Her or his goal
  • The main obstacle to achieve the goal
  • And what’s important, what is so special with that particular story.


Example of a Logline Building

So, let’s start building an example of a logline from a famous movie and watch how we can use the above method:

It’s a comedy about a man who relives the same day over and over.
Ok, this alone is a great catch! If you have such a great premise, sometimes you may not need anything else. I mean it. It’s strong, and if you are the first who thought about this, perhaps you can sell it just by pitching the above phrase. However, for the sake of learning how to build a logline, let’s see the rest and build it correctly.

We have just covered the “What’s important?” part here and the “Genre” part, but we still need the rest.



Who is this man and what is his goal? I mean apart from the obvious, which is to stop reliving the same day and move to the next day. Does he have any other goal?

You must always try to think in terms of conflict. Make your protagonist’s life as difficult as you can!

So, what’s his goal? He’s trying to win the heart of a woman BUT -here’s the conflict- she keeps rejecting him.

Why she rejects him? And why is it so bad that she rejects him? Why doesn’t he move on?
Maybe she rejects him because he is superficial. So, we get back to the first question which is “Who is this man?”

Main Protagonist

Don’t use a name, it doesn’t help unless he’s an actual person.
Who cares if he’s a Michael or a John? This is not useful information. Instead, we need some characterization.

Here’s your chance to build even more conflict. Don’t make it easy for your character, neither for you. In other words, try to give your protagonist traits that will work against him, against his goal. We reaaaally want to build conflict.

Let’s see… What if he is some kind of celebrity? Not a real celebrity. Maybe someone who thinks he is more important than he actually is. For instance, he might be a newsman in a small tv channel or maybe a tv weatherman.
Let’s replace man with tv weatherman.
It’s a comedy about a TV weatherman who relives the same day over and over and he tries to win the heart of a woman but she keeps rejecting him because she can see through him.

Now, we need an adjective. Always add one or two adjectives!
Mostly something that will work “against” him.
He is selfish, egocentric, self-centered, he’s narcissistic.

Let’s add these as well.

It’s a comedy about a self-centered TV weatherman who relives the same day over and over and he tries to win the heart of a woman but she keeps rejecting him because she can see through him.

To sum up

  • We have genre  –>  it’s a comedy.
  • The protagonist   –>  is a self-centered TV weatherman
  • The goal   –>  is to win the heart of a woman
  • The obstacle   –>  is that she doesn’t want him because she can see through him, his flawed character
  • What’s important? What makes this story special and unique?  –>
    He’s trapped in a loop reliving the same day over and over.

Let’s add this as well. The feeling that he’s trapped is also important.

It’s a comedy about a self-centered TV weatherman who gets trapped in a time loop reliving the same day over and over and he tries to win the heart of a woman but she keeps rejecting him because she can see through him.

There it is, we’ve got our logline. I’m sure you’ve all seen it coming, it’s the “Groundhog day”, of course. If you manage to build your logline with all this information, to make it interesting and create lots of conflict, then it would be a piece of cake (ok, I’m exaggerating here) to write your script.

Is it Logline or Premise?

Many people in the film industry use the two words interchangeably, however I strongly disagree that those two terms are the exact the same thing. Logline and Premise are very closely connected but Premise is only a part of the logline, not the entire thing. If you’d like to understand their difference you can read here what Premise really is.

Finally, if you want to see another example of logline building you can watch this video, where I’m explaining it all.


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