Chances are if you see a screenwriter crying and/or banging their head against the desk, possibly whilst wailing about the injustice of the world, it’s probably because they’ve been asked to write a logline. If writing a screenplay is finding the conflict and the drama and exploring that over 60 to 120 minutes, loglines are taking all that nuance and throwing it out of the window. Depending on who you ask, loglines are between 20 and 50 words long, they’re an elevator pitch. A tiny sales document, selling sizzle more than steak. And they’re really hard to write well.
Case in point, I’ve had this article in draft for about a month, because even the idea of loglines terrifies me, never mind writing one. It’s just such a different skillset to screenplay writing, but it is an important one. Without a working short pitch, you have little hope of taking your script to the next level and getting it made, or selling yourself as a screenwriter.
So how should you go about writing one? Scott Myers has an excellent article on writing loglines. The follow-up is also worth a read. One thing to stress is that loglines are not taglines.
In space no one can hear you scream.
Is an amazing tagline, but it won’t sell your screenplay. It sells the finished movie, Alien in this case, to an audience.
Pilar Alessandra has a great little template for what she calls a one minute pitch.
But you know what, all of these are guidelines at best. Some of the results of these templates just don’t read right, or don’t fit the story just right.
So, for Project Carnaby, what loglines have I managed to come up with so far? They’re all terrible. They will get better, as the script develops and as the loglines get refined over and over again. But here are the variations I came up with so far…
Project Carnaby Loglines
- When fairies war in Swinging Soho, London will change forever.
- An idealist straight out of fairytales will either get Soho Swinging, or condemn it forever.
- Benny has left the Endless Summer of his fairy tale lands to bring his brand of hedonism to 1960s Soho.
- Fairy tales descend on 1960s Soho, hoping to bring either Endless Summer, or never-ending Winter.
- 1960s Soho won’t start swinging without a fairytale. One that will bring either Endless Summer or Unending Winter.
All of these are terrible, they don’t fit the templates, they won’t do. But they’re a good start. They forced me to distill my thoughts about the story to something succinct. But they’re going to need a lot of refinement. Expect this topic to re-adressed a few times.