How to Easily Write a Great Logline

by Guest Blogger | 58 comments

This guest post is by Miranda Sajdak. Miranda is the co-founder of Script Chix, a company dedicated to providing screenwriting notes and informative events for entertainment professionals in Los Angeles. If you want to improve your screenwriting, you can check out their website, Also, make sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter (@ScriptChix).

What Is a Logline? Defined simply, the logline is a single sentence (sometimes two) that answers the basic question “what is your story about?” In everyday life, you might encounter a logline most frequently in a TV guide or on your DVR. It seems simple, but the art of writing a compelling logline can elude even the most established writer.

What’s the Difference Between a Logline and a Tagline?

At some point, you’ve probably heard a pitch similar to “It’s like Die Hard meets Bridesmaids!” There are times when film or television executives want to hear what other films your project resembles. But, be aware, these analogies are not loglines.

Keep in mind: a tagline is also not a logline. So, for instance, the classic “In space, no one can hear you scream,” from Alien, or even “One man's struggle to take it easy,” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are not loglines.

Can analogies and taglines be useful? Sure! But, when you submit your work for notes or in a query letter, executives need something more informative about the plot. However, loglines should not spoil the entire plot of a show, film, or book.

No Spoilers, Please!

How many times have you read the description for a TV episode on your DVR and realized the plot’s been spoiled before it’s even aired? We recently watched an episode of Pretty Little Liars, and this was part of the logline: “Ashley is involved in a hit-and-run accident.”

A little bit of context: Ashley is the mother of one of the show’s leads. The hit and run incident ends up being a major plotline in the following episodes. It was meant to be a shock, but the shock was lost when the viewer read that logline. They should have left the detail out or worded it differently (i.e. “An encounter with the law leaves Ashley worried.”). This minor adjustment would allow the scene to have its impact and still get the message across.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Our friend Jennifer has the hardest time pitching a story. Whenever we ask about her latest script, she will talk for hours, explaining how — for instance — a mailman delivers a letter, which tells the secondary character that she didn’t get in to college, while the lead character is busy stuck in a jail cell in Tijuana.

Now, clearly, the lead’s storyline is more life-or-death, but Jennifer gets sidetracked with the details of the secondary characters, because she’s so rooted in the intricacies of the story. The minor details don’t matter; keep the focus on the main plot to write a strong logline.

The Nitty-Gritty

Final tips for creating an effective and intriguing logline:

  1. Start with your protagonist. Who or what leads the action of the story? In Star Wars, that's obvious: Luke Skywalker. But what about an ensemble film like Pulp Fiction? IMDB has a great logline for Tarantino's film: “The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.”
  2. With a logline, you really need to think about your verb. Steer clear of the infinitive “to be.” Look at the Lion King example above: tricked—flees—abandons. All verbs that get you thinking more about the how and the why within the main plot.
  3. Finally, that brings us to the basic “what happens” of the plot. What happens in Star Wars? “Luke Skywalker, a spirited farm boy, joins rebel forces to save Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader, and the galaxy from the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.”

Simplified further: “A spirited farm boy joins rebel forces to save a princess from evil forces, and the galaxy from a planet-destroying starship.”

Here are some other great examples of loglines (credit: IMDB):

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world. (E.T.)

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. (Saving Private Ryan)

Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love. (The Holiday)

While loglines are primarily used in the film and television industries, creating one is a useful exercise for novelists or short story writers. Not only will preparing loglines strengthen your writing skills, but it can also help you discover the essence of your story, if you’re struggling to find it.

How about you? Do you find it helpful to use loglines in your writing?


Now that we've explored the basic elements of a logline, take some time to write your own. Start by writing three loglines:

  1. One from your favorite movie
  2. One from a television show
  3. One from a novel or short story

Then, write a logline for whatever piece of writing you're working on now (or your most recently finished, if you're between projects)!

When you're finished, post your four loglines below in the comments section. If you post, be sure to leave feedback for a few other logline experts!

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  1. LEA

    I’ve had my own logline written out for a while. It’s not easy coming up with one!

    1. With the help of a giant and a swordsman, a beautiful girl and her true love struggle against the machinations of an evil prince and his sadistic right hand man. — The Princess Bride

    2. The international organization of evil tries to take over the world, and only one man stands in their way. — Get Smart

    3. Ashamed of his cowardice, a British officer performs acts of great courage to redeem himself. — The Four Feathers

    4. Taken captive into a strange land and forced to marry a prince, a young shepherdess finds she is the only one who can save her people. — My novel

    • JosieGrosie

      Love the Princess Bride one, Lea! Such a great movie (and a fun book, too). Your novel sounds like a great adventure, as well. I’ll have to come up with some of my own loglines… definitely not an easy task!

    • themagicviolinist

      I agree with Josie. The Princess Bride one is my favorite! 🙂 Though the one for your novel definitely intrigued me.

    • Sandra

      Your novel logline sounds interesting because it is about one person saving humanity around her.

    • joncarllewis

      is #4 anything like the story of Hadassah?

  2. Jackie

    Miranda~you opened my eyes to the art of loglines! As you said, this is an important practice for all writers, regardless of genre. Your article inspires me to put all my writing through a “logline test” to make sure the message I am after is getting across and there is a main core that drives the rest of the work.

  3. AlexBrantham

    Agreed, it’s a great idea to have a clear logline before you get too far into writing a book … although you might have to write some of the book first before you discover what it’s really going to be about!

    • juanita couch

      I like the idea of writing a good logline for my future books.

    • Lorna Robinson

      I agree, and with me the direction changes somewhat every now and again but I suppose a guide is is good to keep oneself focused and on track for the final destination.

  4. themagicviolinist

    An introverted teenager forms an unlikely friendship with the manager of the local water park during his summer vacation. (“The Way, Way Back”)

    A mother and her daughter find their way in the world and in their small town life. (“Gilmore Girls”)

    Two misfits find love in unlikely ways in Omaha, 1986. (Eleanor & Park)

    16-year-old orphan, Raven, fights against an oppressive government for survival in the wilderness along with her adoptive family. (Flightless Birds–my novel)

  5. Sarah Hood

    A homeless African American teen gets a second chance at life . . . and discovers a skill for football . . . when a middle-class white family takes him in. ~The Blind Side

    In 1970s Los Angeles, a team of firemen-paramedics respond to calls ranging from forest fires to emergency childbirths. ~Emergency! (Gotta love those old shows. 🙂

    As darkness threatens to overcome his world, a simple Hobbit must destroy a powerful ring before it destroys him. ~The Lord of the Rings

    Three imperiled youths escape from an oppressive subterranean colony, seeking a mythical land called The Surface. ~Up There, my novel

    • Sandra

      I like how you worded your loglines. I like the logline for your book because the details you provide are interesting. It makes me want to know more.

  6. @DarrellWolfe

    This is a GREAT way to break it down to it’s most simple elements. It has so many other great applications too. This was a great article and one I’ll be linking to! Thanks!

    “While loglines are primarily used in the film and television industries, creating one is a useful exercise for novelists or short story writers…” It’s not just helpful, but imperative for anyone wanting others to know about their story, idea or business.

    It’s just as important for any story writer if you want to be published. It’s just known as an “Elevator Pitch” in that market. Which then becomes huge in other arenas as well, like business. If you want to tell what your business is about tell a story.

    “I’m Joe. I run Mama Mia’s Pizza in downtown Brooklyn, NY. We serve fresh – old world style- pizza daily, just like Mama used to make.” could become the way this imaginary Joe would explain his business to anyone he meets.


  7. Sandra


    The Wall:

    A man with fame and fortune remains unhappy, and when his girlfriend ignores his calls, he breaks down. But in the process of his unfolding he learns about himself.

    tv show: under the dome:

    A dome comes down trapping a town of people together. And their secrets have nowhere left to hide.

    novel or short story:


    A band of Gypsies seek revenge on an overweight lawyer for killing one of their own in a car accident. And now he must hurry. Can he break his curse of ‘Thinner’ before there is nothing left of him?

    my story:

    Robot story:

    When all of humanity have made the ultimate bad choice and lose what made them human, a boy is desperate to fix old mistakes. But to do that he must face the darkness that lies in the past of all.

    • juanita couch

      We are all responsible for the bad choices in life, some of which can never be repaired. I am anxious to read your story.

  8. Denise Golinowski

    Sorry to be late to the game. You folks have some rockin’ novels underway and your log lines for existing movie/show/book were great fun to read. Here are mine:

    Through the Civil War and its horrific aftermath, a willful southern
    belle fights to protect the home she loves. (Gone With The Wind)

    A young queen navigates her way through the French Court in
    pursuit of critical alliances and love. (Reign)

    In the late 1800’s, an aspiring writer chronicles her and
    her sisters’ unique paths to womanhood in Concord, Massachusetts. (Little

    When a vengeful Alpha drives them apart, a witch and a shapeshifter
    struggle to rediscover themselves, and each other, before the Alpha makes
    their separation permanent. (Aces Down)

  9. Sarah R.

    After wishing her baby brother away to a different land, Sarah enters the world to rescue him from the
    dominion of the Goblin King.

    During her retirement travels, quaint Miss Marple undertakes local murder investigations throughout Great Britain.
    -Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple

    As a commoner in a foreign land, Esther is chosen as the new wife to the King of Persia, where she is petitioned to intervene in the possible genocide of her people, the Jews.
    -The Book of Esther

    A woman from Los Angeles forsakes possessions in exchange for a road trip through the Pacific Coast, documenting the experience she shares with her only companion in tow, God.
    -Being Creation

    • S. A. Merk

      Nicely done.
      I love that you used Labyrinth…add that to Legend and my fantasy fun meter goes off the scales.

  10. Chloee

    1: A scared queen with powers beyond imagination tries to hide it from her loves ones but what happens when the ones that you want to protect found out the danger and unleashed the storm- Frozen.
    2: A family moving to New Jersey find out their neighbors are out of this world. Seriously. There aliens soon they become best friends and find out change isn’t so bad- The Neighbors.
    3: A child of a god finds out why He’s so different and get’s sent to a camp for demigods He soon finds out secrets. – Percy Jackson.
    4: CJ’s an orphan lost and abandoned but doesn’t want any ones charity so what happens when She get’s sent to a school for magically gifted kids. – My novel.

    • juanita couch

      I like the premise of your story. Good luck.

  11. EndlessExposition

    It took me ages to think of a good logline for my story. Here it is: Two teens discover that a recent string of cryptic murders are related to a grisly cold case. In the process of solving the mystery, the girls embark on the beginnings of a life-changing friendship.

  12. Ed Pena

    A man obsessed with fears of aging and death barters his soul to the Devil in exchange for immortality. – short story for class

    A bumbling ‘superhero’ with cerebral palsy teaches a woman what real manhood, and true love, are all about. – one of my screenplays

  13. Jay Cool

    A drug dealer opens a nightclub in hopes of becoming a legit business man and leave the drug business, until a hit on his operation forces him to balance his double life as a drug dealer and nightclub owner.. (Power)

  14. juanita couch

    1. Two dogs and a cat take off to find their family.
    2. NCIS Special Agent Tony finds the love of his life.
    3. The tiny kitten is not prepared for his future survival.
    4. He finally got up the courage only to have the door shut in his face.

  15. Adron J. Smitley

    Excellent article =-)

    Here’s a logline for ya: “A lonely swordsman who can slow time saves the life of a hunted woman whose presence nullifies all magic, then vows to protect her from those that would see her dead as they attempt to thwart the genocidal plans of a tyrannical god-king who wields lightning and wants her dead.”

    It’s a short logline of my latest fantasy novel THE LAST SOOTHSAYER which you can view HERE:

    *ONLY .99 cents on Kindle (with Unlimited Sharing) & $14.99 paperback, 400+ pages of exciting fantasy adventure!

  16. CeCilia O'Keefe

    1. Scarlett’s single minded focus for survival during the Civil War scars everyone who crosses her path. (Gone With the Wind)

    2. New voices from both the old and young battle for dominance each season. (The Voice)

    3. The planning was extensive and the execution flawless but the final outcome of what actually happened to the missing girl shocked everyone. (Gone Girl)

    4. Mrs. Lambert’s magical lessons help Stanley change the way he treats others. (My novel)

  17. carole lane

    A wilful grandaughter of an Enchantress, is cajoled to embark upon a quest to Ancient Bulgaria. Her task to return a casket whose secrets once understood will set her people free from an evil tyrant.

    • Tracy Kreiss

      Carole – I really like your logline. It’s so descriptive without being too detailed. Sounds like you’ve got a great foundation for a hero’s journey.

  18. Tracy Kreiss

    1. A young woman comes into her own after surviving the affronts of her emotionally abusive boss in the superficial world of high fashion. (The Devil Wears Prada)

    2. A former CIA operative turned college professor is suddenly thrust onto the world stage as Secretary of State where her apolitical approach to world issues causes conflict with the White House Chief of Staff. (Madam Secretary)

    3. A girl grows into a woman in a geisha house where she wonders if she’ll ever have happiness in a world where her survival depends solely on her ability to charm her wealthy male clients. (Memoirs of a Geisha)

    4. A disadvantaged teen emerges from a secret program where he learns to transcend his psychological limitations and sparks a world-wide movement to evolve the human race. (My novel)

    • Lorna Robinson

      Sounds great,
      all of them
      well done

  19. Mina Solinger

    Here are my attempts at loglines.

    1. A selfish ruler of an ancient civilization is removed from power and, with a little help from an unlikely friend, learns that his words and actions have serious consequences.–The Emperor’s New Groove
    2. A dysfunctional family of a Hip-Hop legend will stop at nothing to control the family business.–Empire, Season 1
    3. An ordinary Englishman, who is suddenly ripped out of his comfortable and normal life, is whisked away on an unlikely and improbable journey to return back home.–Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1
    4. A young woman returns home to discover that having a terrible past is just what is needed to create a brighter and better future.–My story (it is still untitled)

  20. Addsn Bvr

    A concept I’ve been mulling over:
    When an amnesic man awakens to a bizarre and unfamiliar world, he embarks on a perilous journey to unearth the mysteries surrounding his existence and the anomalous powers he possesses.

    What do you think?

    • kebman

      Sounds like the Japanese film Monday. A seemingly average Japanese business man awakens at a hotel, but can’t remember a thing. Gradually he discovers that he’s wanted by both by his family, his lover(s), the law and and the mafia.

    • Lorna Robinson

      A lot of big words, but if you simplified it -When a man awakens to a bizarre and unfamiliar world, he embarks on a perilous journey to unearth the mysteries surrounding his existence and the powers he possesses.
      I would have to spent time looking up amnesic and anomalous and may loose the gist. But then that might just be me
      By the way it sound captivating and catchy

  21. leisurescape

    How does this sound? 60 something, adventure-seeking woman finally finds herself after 40 years of being her own worst enemy.

    • Alicia Whitfield

      What is the thing that causes her to be her own worst enemy?
      Example: After 40 years of traveling the world an Adventure-Seeking Senior finds herself trying to rebuild relationships with her family she has neglected before she dies.

    • leisurescape

      Whose trying to rebuild relationships? Must be you since you seem to be an expert on the topic. Good Luck! Especially with your attitude, who would want you? LOL!

    • leisurescape

      My relationships are in tact. Must be you you’re talking about since you seem to be an expert on the subject. Good luck, especially with your attitude as who would want you? LOL!

  22. Sal Rosagrata

    1. Somewhere Between Time & Space
    A Legend is Born – The Rise of Darkrai
    2. A surprise awaits Ash as he says his final farewell to Kalos before he heads to another adventure – Pokemon XYZ Episode 47
    3. Shoot all the bluejays you want – if you can hit ’em. But remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. To Kill a Mockingbird
    4. A young kid must be courageous and put his life on the line to save the world he loves and the people in it before the real world merges with his dream world. Not to give up till the very end is the only thing he knows. – my novel
    I love your logline Addsn, it makes me question life all completely

  23. Rbeastlondon

    A gangster on the run holes up in the house of a reclusive rock star.

  24. Rbeastlondon

    The Searchers
    A civil war veteran obsessively pursues the kidnapper’s of his niece.

  25. Rbeastlondon

    Toy story
    A gang of toys are threatened by the arrival of their owner’s new toy.

    • Miranda Jane Slauter

      The only thing nipping at me is that Woody was the only one threatened. Everyone else was like, “Hey new guy! Look just ignore the crazy sheriff. Yeah, he’s going delusional since
      Andy, yeah that human, kinda… put you in his spot… yeah, again just ignore him” XD
      but other than that, it looks great! ^^

  26. Lorna Robinson

    1. Favourite movie- A group of men at their annual reunion decide to challenge their midlife crisis’s by taking to the road on their Harley’s only to run into more trouble than they faced at home. -Old dogs
    2. Television show- three beautiful girls trade there hum drum police jobs to join forces with the mystery man and help protect the lives of those who are desperate.
    3. Novel- A teenager girl leads her friends to her secret hideaway location in the mountains for a camp out weekend, little do they realise this will become their home and hiding place because when they return, life as they knew it has changed forever. Tomorrow when the war began -John Marsden

  27. Stephen Drury

    1. A hot-tempered medieval king releases his imprisoned wife for Christmas…and discovers that he still loves her. (The Lion in Winter.)
    2. During WW2 the women of a small English village defy the constraints of the class system and come together to struggle with the privations, and the heartbreaks, of wartime. (Home Fires.)
    3. A condemned heretic intellectual tries to solve a string of murders in the turmoil of 16th century France…and finds himself at risk from both sides in the religious wars. (Conspiracy.)
    4. A gay man finds joy and love after a life of bad decisions, abuse and heartbreak. (Lake of Dreams – my work in progress.)
    I’d be interested to hear your comments, thanks

  28. Art Brown

    A philosophy student returns home for his uncle’s wedding, which followed closely his father’s funeral. Although he suspects foul play, he ponders existential questions, including the necessity of action. – Hamlet

  29. Art Brown

    A one-eyed sailor dates a fickle woman with big feet. – Popeye

  30. Art Brown

    A civil servant awakens to discover he’s become a cockroach. His family shuns him. – Metamorphosis

    • sabrina aupe

      Franz Kafka

  31. Art Brown

    During the great depression, a teen-aged boy comes to New York to become an actor, he falls in with a troupe of ne’er do-wells who resemble characters from Shakespeare. – my series

  32. Shirley Anne Marie

    A dollmaker copes with the loss of his wife by creating a life-sized doll as her replacement.

    i need a conflict statement for this logline please

  33. Marg Sooley

    Charles grew up in a large, poor family in the 1950/s.He reflects back on the hardships he suffered and how this made him the man he is today.

    Andy is kidnapped. When his captor crashes his van, do Andy stay and help him? or do he try to escape?

    Jane falls in love with her married boss, She has to decide is he wants to stay and have an affair that will Lead nowhere or do she get out why she can?

  34. nicewriters

    My premise, online statement or logline

    Young entrepreneur in love with successful, author jolted by her former husband is dying and fears media ruin is to become the family hare and marry her daughter, but go in search to find her husband.

  35. Nora B.

    1. Five criminals are tasked to work together against a common enemy. – The Usual Suspects
    2. Two brothers crisscross the country hunting monsters. – Supernatural
    3. An angel and a demon try to stop the apocalypse. – Good Omens
    4. A depressed man with powers he doesn’t want finds his place among gods and friends. – Blessed (My series in progress)

  36. Zack Lackey

    1. A young girl and an over-confident demi-god replace an ancient relic and save the world. (Moana)
    2. A young boy and his three space guardians fight against evil to save earth. (Steven Universe)
    3. A pair of twins are thrown into a mystical world, where they are the center of attention. (The Alchemyst)
    4. A group of teens is thrown into a shadow realm that puts earth death’s reach. Together, they escape the realm and save the earth. (The Heroes Of Equinox, a TV show idea of mine)

  37. Timothy Chestnut

    Marauding savages and hostile immigrants, war with cannons and treachery with daggers, epidemics and hurricanes, rattlesnakes and alligators, kidnapping and rape, slavery and starvation all threaten the life of a very young adult woman in a lawless town on the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s unless she can find a man to marry, which is the only option she is allowed by her society, but those same dangers have reduced to a desperately small number the men available to her as potential husbands. She has only months to choose, fewer than a half dozen men to pick from, and conflicting advice on whether true love or financial security is the more desirable goal in marriage, since apparently, it is impossible to have both.

  38. ilprologue

    Where’s the Lion King example that’s being alluded to?

  39. Frank Marabate

    1. Favorite Movie
    a) Falling in love young, fate steps in, different paths are taken, there’s a giant, a pirate, a
    swordsman, a princess, and evil has a plan. -The Princess Bride

    b) Falling in love young, fate sends a boy and girl on separate paths, he is captured by
    pirates, she is forced to marry an evil king. -The Princess Bride

    2. Television Show
    Three centuries in the future a team of Federation officers try and maintain peace and order
    with hostile aliens, prophets that live in a wormhole, and a new threat from another galaxy.
    -Deep Space Nine

    3. Novel or Short Story
    Set in the 1860’s, a futuristic under water vessel controlled by a man out for revenge, sails the
    seven seas. -20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    4. Something I’ve Thought About Writing
    Since 1872, when the first national park was established, it has been estimated that more
    than a thousand people have disappeared from our national forests, parks, and federal lands
    without a trace. A few have been found alive, remains are sometime recovered, but what has
    happened to the rest? And why won’t the government answer the question, “How many
    people have really gone missing?”



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