The Value of a Logline

A logline, or log line, is a simple description of a story that is only a sentence long.  It boils the story down to its essence. Unlike the tagline, which is created as a marketing hook, the logline gives the basic premise of the story.

Here are three loglines for three famous movies:

Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (Star Wars)

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits. (The Road Warrior)

A frontiersman named Hugh Glass on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s is on a quest for survival after being brutally mauled by a bear. (The Revenant)

So what’s the value of a logline?  It condenses a story to its basic components: Who is your protagonist? Where is the story set? What is the main conflict?

When you’re pitching a novel or a screenplay, you will need to get to those basic elements. Your written pitch for a screenplay will often contain a tagline followed by a logline, followed by a synopsis of one to three pages.

But here is the point: often I find authors who haven’t really considered how to pitch their novels or films. They can’t tell me in one sentence what the story is about. Getting a logline down early might be helpful as you focus on the very basics of your story, and gives you something to build upon as you write your synopsis.

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Patterns of structure, plot, and character development show up time and again. Throughout the ages, master storytellers and researchers have shown us that a story is more than a simple three-act structure. Join this session for story structure wisdom and hands-on takeaways — including a Master Map distilling plot and structure guidelines from the likes of Joseph Campbell, Blake Snyder, Michael Hauge, Houston Howard, and more.

Erin M. Brown, MA, MFA, is the author of 15 books (fiction, nonfiction, academic, children’s) and has been a professional writer/editor/ghostwriter for over 25 years, helping authors master story writing through seminars, coaching, and dozens of online courses. Come join us and learn the secrets of plot and structure!


Lisa Mangum is currently the managing editor for the Shadow Mountain imprint and has worked with several New York Times bestselling authors. While fiction is her first love, she also has experience working with nonfiction projects. She is also the author of the bestselling Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.

Lisa will be sharing writing lessons and doing a Q&A

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WEDNESDAY ON APEX’S ACCELERATOR CALL – 11/30/22 at 7:00 pm MT AND 12/3/22 at 8:00 am MT

Forrest Wolverton uses NLP and other tools for the mind to motivate and help you get past the obstacles in the way of your writing. He will help you become the best writer you can be. Apex is one of the few writing groups with our own world-class and expert motivational speaker.

To join any of Apex’s calls, simply sign up at apex-writers.com; once you become a member, click on “Upcoming Events” for the call links.

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