The Logline Revisited
The importance of a logline to the development of any script goes without question. Not only will the structure of the script suffer, without a proper logline, but the possibility of selling the script will diminish significantly. Therefore whenever a screenwriter starts a script it would be best to have the logline prepared. However writing a logline may not be the simplest of tasks. So it is important to keep certain things in mind in order to write a good logline. The first thing a logline should do is introduce the main character or protagonist. The logline should also introduce the antagonist. On top of that it should also set up the catalyst for the protagonist. And lastly, upon reading it, the logline should inspire a mental picture or vision of the story.
The first job of the logline is to introduce the main character of the film. The main character is the driving force behind the story and it could be anything the writer wants it to be. However it is crucial to introduce this character in the logline and it is also crucial that the writer describe the protagonist. Take the logline for Finding Nemo as an example.
“After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.”
This logline introduces the main character and it also does a great job of describing him. In one line the audience knows that the protagonist is a timid clownfish who is also a father. All of that is vital information to the story. Another job of the logline is to introduce the antagonist. In the Finding Nemo logline the open sea acts like the antagonist to the clownfish. Since the clownfish was described as timid, it is easy to see why a voyage into the open sea would pose as a problem. But the clownfish must face his fear and swim out into the open sea. Which brings up the third goal of the logline and that is to give the audience a catalyst. The protagonist of the story must be taken out of their comfort zone. The catalyst is going to force them out and put them in a possession where they must face a conflict. Again, the logline for Finding Nemo does a perfect job of setting this up. The timid clownfish does not want to go out to sea but his son has been taken away from him and in order to get him back he must face his fear. Lastly but certainly not least, the main goal of the logline is to incite a mental picture or vision of the film. If the audience does not see the story play out in some way within the mind’s eye then the logline has not done its job. It is important that whoever reads the logline gets lost, if only briefly, in their own imagination. If this does happen then the logline has done its job and hooked them. Therefore once a logline is ready you should test it out and measure its effect. Tell friends and family but also do not be afraid to tell random people that you happen to meet along the way. A stranger’s reaction will be the best indication on whether or not the logline is doing its job. If you could get a stranger interested with that one line, then the logline is a success.